"Suffragette" is a film that aspires to be a moving portrait of women's right to vote, providing a voice for the foot soldiers that helped make the movement possible in the early 20th-century.

And while the film may not quite reach the lofty heights it shoots for, it is still a solid - and important - piece of work. It may not have the emotional impact it aims for, but it is still powerful in its own right - thanks largely in part to Carey Mulligan.

Mulligan plays Maude, a hard-working London wife and mother who starts out as an innocent bystander for the Suffragette movement. But the more she sees of the cause, the more she is drawn in to be a part of fighting for women's rights. It is a decision that has a dramatic effect on her marriage - as she is further shunned by those who oppose her cause, including her husband (Ben Whishaw).

Abi Morgan's screenplay does a good job of capturing the struggle in that era, even if it is hard to watch at times.

Director Sarah Gavron also captures the struggle, aided by a supporting cast that also includes Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep - in what amounts to a cameo as the leader of the movement.

But the real strength in "Suffragette" lies in Mulligan, who continues to showcase her ability to make an audience empathize with her character's plight.

Mulligan has pretty much made a career out of period piece films - from "An Education" to "Far From the Madding Crowd" - so it really isn't a surprise that this is another role that fits her well. 

Her struggle is real, and easy for the audience to identify with, giving "Suffragette" the power and voice it aims for.

"Suffragette" is rated PG-13 for some intense violence, thematic elements, brief strong language and partial nudity and opens in Nashville this weekend.

Grade: B


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