Dir. Philippa Lowthorpe
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)
“The only other forum in which participants are weighed, measured and publicly examined before being assigned their value is a cattle market.”
Would you believe that over 900 million people tuned in to the 2019 Miss World pageant? Whilst the appeal may have waned in the UK, it is still one of the biggest televised events worldwide – hugely popular in China and India especially.
Misbehaviour is the cinematic retelling of how in 1970 some women liberation activists took a well-publicised stand against the event which they deemed as an oppressive expression of patriarchal values.
'non-gratuitous swimsuit shot'
Director Philippa ‘Swallows and Amazons’ Lowthorpe frames the incident through the lens of two of the activists involved: Sally Alexander (Keira Knightley) and Jo Robinson (Jessie Buckley). The two leads are opposites in how they want to change the world – both strong Feminists but whilst Alexander wants academic acceptance to ‘change the system from the inside’, Robinson wants to destroy the patriarchy head-on with direct action – she spends a lot of time graffitiing billboards and waving placards.
The film suffers from some slightly cringy moments but does at least try to show the real characters with their differing attitudes as to how to fight for change. What is more regrettable is the simplistic
approach taken to a subject that really should have been taken apart with more gusto. The plotting fails to seriously reconcile how aspirations amongst women, especially women of colour, from around the world were not really aligned. It rankles a bit to see a group of white middle-class protesters in effect upstaging the quest for recognition by ethnic groups who were underrepresented.
'the plot is afoot'
Where the film works best is in exposing the vintage sexism – Bob Hope (a nicely slimy Greg Kinnear) is the perfect embodiment of all that is wrong with male attitudes. When asked if he considers the feelings of women he jokes “I consider feeling women all the time.”
So whilst the right on agenda presented to us here fails to manifest the level of rebellion required, there is a touching nod to the struggles of those women who have ‘accepted their place in the home’
through Phyllis Logan as Alex's mother Evelyn. She brings some sense of the conflict faced by older women in the career v family dilemma.
If looking for a lightweight and enjoyable dramatization of what happened back then
– Misbehaviour delivers that but not much more.
Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(3 - Nice enough but it should have shocked more)
Awesomeness öö – Fem-em-up voices are important
Laughs öö – A few funnies
Horror ö – Some sexist material
Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - created equal...
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