This Carey Mulligan led period piece was a fairly entertaining film that shed some light on the history of the suffragette movement through the personal, circumstantial drama of an initially unwilling participant. However, it lacked the historical details to make it more educational nor does it, despite Mulligan's dedicated and moving performance, provide enough emotional heft for us to connect with the cause. Especially since most educated audience will already accept the fact that it is a right for women to vote. Therefore, the film failed to show and engaging lead the audience to its inevitable conclusion.
The period details were well designed as were the costumes with the drabness and dreariness of the lower class clearly illustrated and emphasized to counterpoint that of the well to do. However, we do not see the struggle of the upper crust and that disparity made the cause and the purpose of the suffragettes jarring.
Mulligan did a highly commendable job in depicting the evolution of her character. But as a character, she was not a well written one - mostly reacting to her circumstances rather than actively participating in the change. Nonetheless, that did not diminish the quality of her acting as we keenly feel her pain, suffering, despair and helplessness.
Ben Wishaw stood out as Mulligan's on-screen husband. Their scenes were electrifying and it would be interesting to see these two actors together again.
Helena Bonham Carter received second billing and she is usually a great actress to watch. Here, she was her more subdued self and similarly did not really make much of an impression. There was hardly any conviction in her character's headstrong-ness and militant-type dedication to the cause.
Meryl Streep just chewed up the scenery in her barely five-minutes appearance. But at least in that brief moment she managed to convince us why she is a leader and why the cause is right.
Suffragette is unlikely to get much awards notice other than for Mulligan and maybe during the BAFTAs as it - despite its Oscar baiting intentions - really lacked an emotional core beyond its first act.