Feminism is great but feminism is also tricky. There are many factors that go into making sure there is equality across gender. Whilst many talk about the movement now in encouraging (and sometimes disparaging ways,) in the 1970s, it was seen as a silly little thing. Something that distracted housewives and mothers from their duties.
However, the 1970s was crucial for paving the way for women’s rights across the globe and one particular event, Miss World 1970, helped galvanise a generation into fighting for their rights. The latest film by Philippa Lowthorpe helps combat that.
Starring Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-raw, Jessie Buckley, and many more, Misbehaviour looks at a ground-breaking event where the Women’s Liberation Movement stormed the stage of the contest. The film looks at the women behind the protest such as academic Sally Alexander and fiery Jo Robinson as well as the contestants themselves such as Jennifer Hostan – the first every black winner of Miss World.
With Misbehaviour on the heels of Military Wives in terms of release, you could be forgiven for lumping the two together – feel good British films about different iterations of women packaged in a quaint but rather naff film. However, Lowthorpe’s film about revolution and the turning of tides much for succinct and nuanced than expected.
More akin to a movie such as Pride, the film looks at different perspectives surrounding the event. It becomes less about the Women’s Lib against Beauty Pageants but more about everyone against the patriarchy. Through the eyes of Jennifer especially, played serenely and superbly by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, the movie looks at a time where these types of contests could propel a woman forward. Focusing on how crucial Jennifer’s win was, Misbehaviour tries to look at different points of view. This also includes the generational difference between women.
The biggest problem, however, in balancing the thread between white feminism and intersectionality, the former is more focussed on. There is an admirable attempt but still the Women’s Lib is the focus and, in the film, they are mostly led by white women. There is also this unnecessarily focus on Bob Hope. Though unrecognisable Greg Kinnear is as he melts into the role, it is really a pointless endeavour; whilst it fleshes out how much of a creep he was, it feels over-wrung when there are more characters here to focus on.
There is a charm here and emotive moments. Plus, there is a succession of actors here who get somewhat lost on the fray such as Leslie Manville, Keeley Hawes, and Rhys Ifans. Misbehaviour may make missteps as it tries to move forward, and we can definitely do better than this, but the outing is a treat nonetheless.
Misbehaviour is out Friday 13 March!