Suffragette Blu-ray Review
It seems like there is nothing more important to the common man then the right to vote for elected office. In the United States, women were not given the vote until 1920. African-Americans were supposed to be allowed to vote starting in 1870, but it wasn’t until 1964 that many of them dared attempt to. The same thing happened in London in 1912. And, if the new film SUFFRAGETTE is to be believed, it wasn’t easy across the pond either.
Consisting of a strong cast and a depressing story, SUFFRAGETTE was intended to be Oscar-bait last year. However, despite the fact it pretty much swept the Women’s Film Critic’s Circle awards, the Academy Awards passed it by. Maud Watts (Mulligan) finds herself intrigued by a movement, one started and championed by Emmeline Pankhurst (Streep, in really nothing more than a glorified cameo). She finds herself thrust into a large role in the new movement almost against her will, yet when the spotlight hits she can’t help but rail for equal pay, etc. As played by Mulligan, Maud is well defined and we feel the reticence beneath her deeds and expressions.
The story beyond Maud is very hard to take. Apparently English men have only one way of dealing with a wife who disagrees with him and that’s to beat them. The beatings portrayed here, and their intensity, should alone have merited this film an “R” rating for their emotional damage to the viewer. The fact that this film was both written and directed by women makes me wonder why focusing on the beatings was necessary. Shock value? Driving the point home that women had it tough? Maybe, but these images take the viewer out of the film. It made me wish I was doing anything else but watching this movie.
Again, the cast does a good job, with notable performances given by the three female leads as well as Ben Wishaw and Brendan Gleeson. Technically the film is well made, with great attention paid to the period detail. Credit to cinematographer Edu Grau and production designer Alice Normington for recreating early 20th Century London. Tip of the cap also to costume designer Jane Petrie for great period creations. And a fine score by Alexandre Desplat moves the film along as well. Too bad all of these behind the camera achievements are wasted on this film.
An important part of history that gets lost in its telling, SUFFRAGETTE could have been so much more than the sum of its parts. Instead it tries to make a martyr out of a young woman whose beliefs are belittled at every turn. Throw in a hunger strike or two, and the occasional beating, and it’s no surprise it took another sixteen years before women were allowed to vote in the U.K. If you’re really interested in learning about these events from the past, you’d be better off visiting your local library then watching this movie. When even an appearance by Meryl Streep can’t make a film watchable, you know you’re in trouble.
Video: Presented in its original 2.39:1 aspect ratio, the film has an “old” look to it, as if you’re looking at old newsreels, though the images are sharp and clear..
Audio: The soundtrack is delivered in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1. and is impressive. The sound has been well mixed so that while enjoying the musical score you still don’t miss the sounds of a bustling city.
Audio Commentary – The film’s director, Sarah Gavron, and writer Abi Morgan combine for a very in-depth and enjoyable commentary.
Inside “Suffragette” (10:31): A short featurette highlighting the film’s production.
“Suffragette:” Looking Back, Looking Forward (7:11): The film’s cast and crew members talk about the story depicted on screen and it’s relevancy today.
Making the VFX for “Suffragette” (5:07): A featurette narrated by director Sarah Gavron, Production Designer Alice Normington and Visual Effects Supervisor Simon Hughes as they comment on the various effects in the film.