By David Michael Newstead.
Suffragette is excellent on a granular-level from the acting to its film locations, period clothing, and cinematography. Against the backdrop of the women’s suffrage movement, we see a snapshot of Britain a century ago – a country of impoverished slums, rigid class distinctions, and strong Victorian sensibilities.
The activists that challenged those norms go on to experience all the hardship that British society at the time can inflict. This comes in the form of police beatings, imprisonment, shaming, force feedings, and early attempts at government surveillance.
Some years ago, in fact, I recall seeing an old political cartoon from that era criticizing the force feeding of suffragettes on hunger strike. But knowing that that happened in a general sort of way is much different than watching it and Suffragette certainly doesn’t sugarcoat the past. Throughout the film, the drudgery, poverty, and violence of 1912 is as visceral as the chauvinism.
The film’s real accomplishment though is that it shows itself to be more than just a history lesson. After all, Saudi women only recently got the right to vote in August of this year.