Suffragette (Movie 2015)

4 Kernels

Stars: Carey Mulligan, Helen Carter, and Meryl Streep

Well, it really doesn’t star Meryl Streep. It’s more of a cameo appearance not even totally five minutes.

The women who fought for our rights do need our thanks. However, like any other social change, some fought for change while others enjoyed status quo and their position in the scheme of things. 

Enter Carey Mulligan, who plays Maud Watt.  She is a laundress, poor, married, and has one young son.  She’s been working since she was twelve in terrible conditions, scraping by to make a life.  For the most part, she’s accepted her lot in life.  Appears to be happy in her marriage and a fulfilled mother.

Then she recognizes someone at work, who is part of a demonstration, and throws a stone through a store window shouting, “Votes for women!”  Appalled, frightened, and not quite sure what to think of it, she eventually becomes part of the movement.  She attends a rally to check out the cause but is not a suffragette filled with the heated emotion to bring upon change. 

When she is arrested and thrown into prison for her participation, things drastically change.  Her husband turns against her and locks her out of the home because she is an embarrassment and cannot be controlled by a good whack, like other wives. Eventually, unable to care for their son, he adopts the child out to another family.  Maud loses everything — home, marriage, and child — which merely fuels her desire to fight the good fight more radically.

The movie focuses on more than women demanding the vote. It paints a picture of the struggles that women, in general, went through to become more than wives and mothers in a male-dominated society. 

I’ve recently been reading historical news clippings from Salford, U.K. (my ancestry research), and came across an interesting article when women finally got the vote in 1918. It was reported that women were among the first voters in every polling district to show up the first time they could vote, eager to exercise their freedom. However, one woman interviewed by a reporter stated afterward, “Is that all it is?” Apparently, after the years of suffering to get there, when it finally happened, all the hype didn’t meet the expectations of some ladies.  I’m sure that’s not the case with all who fought for the right to have a voice.  Frankly, I think it was a bit of a sarcastic twist on behalf of the reporter.

As far as the movie goes, it’s historically interesting. If you hate male domination and the thought that women need to be put in their place, this movie may not be for you. Violence is used against demonstrators as if they deserved every blow.

Far From the Madding Crowd (Movie 2015)

5 Kernels

Stars: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, and Tom Sturridge

At last, Far From the Madding Crowd finally released in a handful of theaters in Portland. I have agonized for months, fearing I would not see it on the big screen. However, fate allowed me the opportunity, and I’m so glad that I took advantage even though the drive through traffic nearly gave me a nervous breakdown.

If you are looking for a sumptuous and gorgeously filmed period drama, I don’t think you will be disappointed. The musical score is wonderful, too, and I’ve been listening to it for a few weeks on Amazon Cloud.  Hearing the music attached to the story only made me appreciate the score even more.

If you know nothing about Tom Hardy’s novel written in 1874, you will undoubtedly enjoy the story as it unfolds on the screen.  I had never read the book or seen earlier movie versions.  (Yes, sometimes it appears that I’ve lived under a rock all my life.)

However, if you have read the novel, you should be fairly pleased at how closely it mirrors the original book, taking into consideration an entire novel has been scrunched into a two-hour film.  It has a fairly high tomato meter of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The four main characters portrayed by Carey Mulligan (Bathsheba Everdene), Matthias Schoenaerts (Gabriel Oak), Michael Sheen (William Boldwood), and Tom Sturridge (Frank Troy), were all well casted in their roles.  Carey is a brilliant actress who settled perfectly into the strong-willed young woman.  Her three suitors were equally wonderful in their roles, showing depth and emotion to their characters.

The story centers around Bathsheba Everdene, an independent and pretty young lady who inherits her uncle’s farm. She has no need of a husband, so she says, and doesn’t think any man could ever tame her.  Of course, in those days if she married her wealth and farm would no longer belong to her but to her husband.

As the story first unfolds, she meets Gabriel Oak, a shepherd who falls for Miss Everdene. After an early proposal in their relationship, she refuses even though he owns his own farm. An unfortunate twist in fate overtakes his life, and Gabriel loses everything he owns. Eventually, he becomes one of her employees at her newly inherited farm and their roles have switched. Gabriel Oak continues to yearn for her heart.

Bathsheba intends to astound everyone as she takes control of her new life and catches the eye of another man who is her neighbor. He too swiftly falls for her and proposes marriage, but once again she refuses saying she does not need a husband. The brokenhearted Mr. Boldwood continues to hope, but his hopes are swiftly dashed when the woman he loves meets the dashing Sergeant Frank Troy.

The independent woman is swept off her feet by a pretty-boy in a red uniform. Handsome yes, but his character leaves much to be desired. Gabriel warns her of his ways and to stay clear, but she will hear nothing of it.

Love is blind, and Bathsheba falls hard for the handsome soldier.  Played by Tom Sturridge, he is the epitome of male perfection compared to the middle-aged Mr. Boldwood.  One kiss and one seductive touch of her womanhood while making out in the woods, and the heroine is putty in his hands.

Eventually, through her mistakes and a tragic outcome, she learns a difficult lesson that she does indeed need a man who has been at her side all along. So who does she pick — the strong quiet type, the rich nobleman of a neighbor, or the handsome pretty boy in red?  You’ll have to find out for yourself.

I won’t tell you anything else about the storyline in case you’ve been hiding under a rock too. No need to spoil a good flick.  If you have the chance, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at this beautifully filmed movie set in the English countryside and coastline.

The romance sweetly ends leaving a satisfied outcome.  I thoroughly enjoyed being tucked away in the theater for two hours and far from the madding crowd outdoors to watch this splendid period drama.