SUFFRAGETTE – Review by Susan Granger

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Viewed from the 21st century, it’s difficult to imagine a time when women – 50% of the population – were not only denied the right to vote but equality with men on many levels. Held in human bondage, women were considered their husband’s property, along with their children. Read on…

In 1912, after 50 years of peaceful protest, the militant Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in London encouraged women in subversive acts of civil disobedience, endangering property – but never human life.

Although harassed laundry plant worker Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) didn’t consider herself a Suffragette, she’s inadvertently caught in a street skirmish, where she recognizes a co-worker, Violet Miller (Anne-Marie Duff), among the spirited agitators.

Spotted by the police, meek Maud becomes a ‘suspect,’ persecuted by skeptical Inspector Arthur Steed (Brendan Gleason) and his boorish cohorts, causing distress not only to her but also her husband/co-worker (Ben Whishaw) and their young son (Adam Michael Dodd) when she’s brutally imprisoned.

Chanting, “Deeds, not words,” Maud’s grueling struggle is inspired and encouraged by pharmacist Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter) and upper-class Alice Houghton (Romola Garai), who galvanize exploited working-class women to join the movement.

Eloquently scripted by Abi Morgan (“The Iron Lady”) and astutely directed by Sarah Gavron (“Brick Lane”), it’s a historical drama, filled with gritty, atmospheric authenticity, including ill-fated activist Emily Wilding Davis (Natalie Press), who stepped in front of King George V’s horse at the Epson Derby in 1913.

Delivering the most subtly ferocious and uncompromising performance of her career, Carey Mulligan (“Far From the Madding Crowd”) is magnificent. Although Meryl Streep is prominently featured in the advertising, her role is, basically, a cameo as defiant Emmeline Pankhurst, who spends far too much time in hiding.

During the credits, there’s a list of dates when various countries granted voting rights to women, concluding with Saudi Arabia, where women’s rights have been ‘promised’ but still not granted.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Suffragette” is a struggle-filled 7. And fiery Mulligan is the source of the film’s strength.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.