Mr. Movie

Great acting can’t hold ‘Suffragette’ together

Carey Mulligan seen at Los Angeles Premiere of Focus Features’ Suffragette at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles.
Carey Mulligan seen at Los Angeles Premiere of Focus Features’ Suffragette at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles. Invision for Focus Features

Suffragette is a fictionalized story of a cell of women who fought for women’s right to vote in England in the early 1900s. Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby), Anne-Marie Duff (The Madeline Sisters) and Helena Bonham Carter star. Mulligan plays the main character, while Duff and Bonham Carter have supporting roles.

Meryl Streep — in misleading marketing — is billed as starring but she’s only in one scene. Streep plays England’s real life movement leader Emmeline Pankhurst.

Mulligan is Maud Watts. She and her husband Sonny work in a laundry and have a nice little boy. Life is hard, but they seem happy. The plot plods slowly along, and then things happen at the laundry that drag a reluctant Maud into the fray.

That involvement eventually turns tragic.

You are never connected to Maud or to her co-conspirators. No matter what happens to them, you feel nothing. It’s just a story about a space in time where injustice for women ruled. There is a scene about two-thirds the way through the movie involving Maud that should have — at the very least — generated anger and sorrow, or both, and emotions that border on tears.

But you feel nothing.

Admittedly, the acting is superb. That’s a given, considering the cast, but writer Abi Morgan’s (The Iron Lady) script and her characters lack depth. Director Sarah Gavron — who hasn’t done anything you’ve heard of — then takes those two-dimensional characters and Morgan’s so-so script, wastes the terrific performances and pretty much makes this a paint-by-numbers movie experience.

‘Suffragette’

Director: Sarah Gavron

Stars: Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson, Natalie Press and Meryl Streep

Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, some violence.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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