Rated 4.0

In 1912 England, a laundry worker (the chameleon-like Carey Mulligan) is drawn gradually into the fight for women's votes. As the intransigence of the male power structure grows ever more brutal (personified by Brendan Gleeson's implacable police inspector), she is moved to militancy in the cause of simple social justice. Abi Morgan's script smoothly mixes fictitious characters like Mulligan's—and a pharmacist played by Helena Bonham Carter—with historical figures like Emmeline Pankhurst (a star cameo by Meryl Streep) and Emily Davison (Natalie Press), whose death in a demonstration at the 1913 Epsom Derby helped galvanize support for the cause. Under Sarah Gavron's firm direction, Edward Grau's gritty cinematography and the sometimes murky accents (to American ears) add an aura of documentary realism. J.L.