America’s getting a woman on the $10 bill and England’s bringing us a movie about the women a century ago who fought for the right to vote. In honor of Emmeline Pankhurst Day in the UK, the charismatic leader of the British suffragette movement played by Meryl Streep in the movie Suffragette, Focus Features has released promotional posters with Helena Bonham Carter, Carey Mulligan and the Streep. The posters and the trailer highlight the guerrilla tactics used by these women to accomplish their goal, making it both an action and political drama.
The big name actresses on-screen have equally talented women working behind-the-scenes with director Sarah Gavron and writer Abi Morgan. Since Americans seem to prefer English period pieces to contemporary films, Morgan’s most popular film was probably The Iron Lady where she again partnered with Meryl Streep for a biopic about former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Sarah Gavron also previously collaborated with Abi Morgan on her last major film Brick Lane set in the British Bangladeshi community following the 9/11 attacks. Given Gavron and Morgan’s rapport, this drama about the tumultuous lives of the women behind the suffrage movement should provide a compelling introduction to the British suffrage movement without any pedantic pretenses.
The British suffragettes succeeded in getting women the right to vote in 1918, one year before the United States, so maybe that’s why The Hollywood Reporter announced that Suffragette will be the first film allowed to film inside the actual U.K. Houses of Parliament. Previous films set there had to make due with set lookalikes, but the political significance of this film must have won over the powers that be for the first time.
This film of firsts will open in New York and Los Angeles on October 23 and expand nationwide in following weeks.