Telluride Review: Suffragette (★★★)

suffragette

For the second time today, Meryl Streep was on hand for a showing I was at, this time for her own film, Suffragette. Director Sarah Gavron was there to introduce the film, which she explained took a long journey to complete. Her producers, screenwriter Abi Morgan (Shame, The Iron Lady), and, of course, Meryl Streep, were all brought on stage for her to praise before the world premiere.

Set at the precipice of the women’s rights movement, Suffragette tells the true story of feminist pioneer Maud Watts, played with infallible fervor by the great Carey Mulligan. Watts and her group of working women live under an unfair government where they not only do not have the right to vote, but also suffer far more unreasonable laws. When their peaceful protests go unheard, the next step must be taken to set things right. As their revolt becomes a violent insurgence, the women must decide whether to push forward, even if it means losing everything that matters most.

Suffragette is a well put together film. Shot against the backdrop of early 20th century England, Gavron does an excellent job of making you feel a part of that era. The production design, costumes, and – most notably – score, are all top notch. Composer Alexandre Desplat could very well land himself a ninth nomination for his resplendent work, which shifts from nuanced melancholy to a voracious tension.

The film is an important one, terse and poignant, and with Hillary Clinton possibly becoming our nation’s first female President, it manages to hit the zeitgeist a bit as well. However, there is something missing in the final act that keeps the Suffragette from being a complete success, and without wanting to spoil anything, the film feels a little ascetic in the end, missing what could be that one final great scene to culminate what Gavron and her team set out to do.