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Arts and Entertainment Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015 6 years ago

Film review: 'Suffragette'

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'Suffragette' tells a story that's as authentic as it is important.

The right to vote is a precious privilege. Many people throughout history were willing to risk everything in order to obtain it — even their lives. "Suffragette" tells the story of a group of British women who desperately fought for equality in the 1900s.

Wife and mother Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) works in a laundry sweatshop, and the hardships she endures at work don't end when she returns home. One day, Maud is urged by fellow workers to join the suffragette movement, and she decides to do so, if reluctantly. When she's beaten and jailed during a peaceful protest, her husband, Sonny (Ben Whishaw), kicks her out and eventually puts her beloved son up for adoption.  

When non-violent protesting fails, the suffragettes resort to extreme measures in order to gain ground. The leader of their movement, Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep), remains in hiding as Maud and fellow sisters wreak havoc. Not until one of them sacrifices her life (in a most brutal manner), does the world stand up and take notice.

Director Sarah Gavron ("Brick Lane") has assembled an impressive cast, which also includes Helena Bonham Carter and Brenden Gleeson. And her eye for detail is impeccable. The costumes, streetscapes and squalid living conditions vividly reflect the mood of the era and enhance the feel of the film. Gavron has achieved telling a story that's as authentic to look at as it is important to tell.

But it's Carey Mulligan's ("Shame" "An Education") portrayal of a weak, downtrodden woman who evolves into a bold crusader that makes "Suffragette" unforgettable. Her facial expressions speak volumes about the turmoil her character endures. It's a performance destined to receive oodles of accolades.

Before the final credits roll, a list of when and where women finally obtained the right to vote is displayed on screen. It's incredibly fascinating (i.e. Switzerland didn't grant it until 1971). What's equally fascinating is why people still try so vehemently to suppress certain people from voting to this day. It's nothing short of shameful.

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