Monday, 9 November 2015

Suffragette (12A)

Remember us? Yeah, we used to write film reviews. Then we decided moving would be a good idea and it all went to hell.

So, finally, we've found where the cinema is (The Electric Palace in Harwich on this occasion), we've unpacked some stuff and most of the furniture is no longer flat-packed.

It's been a stressful time, we can't deny, so what better way to unwind than hit the big screen and relax with a few chuckles and a laugh or five?

Well, that was the plan...

First, The Electric Palace.

Now, I have a soft-spot for this place. It's where my love of film was born. Yes, I may have seen Krull and Ewoks: Caravan Of Courage there, but that didn't put me off.

Having been refurbished and resurrected by a committee of local stalwarts, the Palace is now an important local landmark and it's getting some good films and cinematic events.

It's also got Clive Owen as patron, so that helps.

And OK, the seats aren't comfortable, and the screen is a tad small when you're used to the World Of Cine, but where else can you pop to get an ice cream or have a pee after the trailers and ads without missing any of the film?

And they put the house lights up so you can see where you're going.

It's a great place to fall in love with film again.

Or it would be if you hadn't decided to go and see Suffragette.

Now, yes, I know, it's an important subject and the story needs telling now more than ever as we try and get people to re-engage with the whole voting process - but it needed to be told well.

Instead, what you get are a series of loosely-linked vignettes which serve more as a highlights package than serving up a story of depth and substance.

For those of you still unsure what the film's about, it's not a documentary on the making of a fine Wings song (that would have been more fun), but a look at how women fought to get the right to vote.

Like I said, an important story.

And the performances are up to the task at hand.

Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Whishaw all turn in fine performances, capturing the drudgery and conflict of the day.

Which is no mean feat when the story is so thin and the characters lack any depth.

At no point do you feel you are getting to grips with the events. It's like you're being told by a disinterested observer rather than being compelled to engage with the narrative.

You should be coming out of the cinema infused with a desire to fight the system, bring about change, stand up for what they stood for...

Instead, you find yourself thinking 'well, that happened - ooh, look, there's still time to grab a pint across the road'.

And that shouldn't be happening.

I get that there is probably a lot to pack in, a lot happened in the build-up to the event that was to force through the changes albeit eventually, but rather than trying to tell the whole story maybe it would have been better to focus on just a few key events.

What also doesn't help is the part of Emmeline Pankhurst is played by Meryl Streep - both fleetingly and without any sense of drama or who she actually she is.

One could actually walk out of the cinema thinking Maggie Thatcher started the movement, which is wrong on many, many levels.

And then there's the whole shaky-cam thing.

Using a hand-held camera certainly puts you right in the action, but here it only serves to confuse and muddy the scenes it's used for. It certainly doesn't make the struggle any more real.

This should be a worthy film - and, as mentioned, many of the performances are great.

But somehow, a film about one of the seminal movements of the 20th Century fails to hammer home just how momentous the events were.

Instead, it's left to the closing pre-credit sequence to make the point about how much work still needs to be done in the name of equality.

Still, nice to be back at the Palace...

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