Starring: Keira Knightley, Jessie Buckley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Director: Philippa Lowthorpe
Running Time: 106 mins
Misbehaviour is a British film about the true story of a group of Women’s Liberation campaigners who, in protest at the exploitative nature of the famed Miss World contest, stirred up controversy in their fight against the patriarchy.
A captivating true story that looks at the origins of modern feminism in Britain, Misbehaviour is certainly a worthy film, made all the better by an engaging screenplay and an effective period setting. Saying that, it never really hits home with its core messages, proving disappointingly dry at times as it tells a story that’s anything but.
First things first, however, Misbehaviour is an undeniably engaging watch, particularly from a historical perspective. It might not wrap you in the fervour and passion of its feminist themes, but it gives an interesting and detailed look at the origins of the modern women’s movement in Britain.
As well as a scathing look into the exploitative nature of the Miss World contest, Misbehaviour gives engrossing insight into the different approaches towards campaigning taken by different people in the Women’s Liberation Movement in its earlier days.
In that, there’s a brilliant assessment of the internal conflicts in campaign groups and movements, particularly in the film’s first act – as it sees passionate campaigners from entirely different walks of life crash together – creating friction within a group fighting for the same goal.
When it comes to the film’s portrayal of feminism and the Women’s Liberation Movement as a united front, however, it’s surprisingly underwhelming. The real power in the film lies in its attack on the Miss World competition, with the backwards nature of the contest the only thing that really gets under your skin throughout.
In the meantime, the film struggles to juggle a variety of different variables and considerations in the women’s movement, often losing its core passion in an attempt to be a little more well-rounded.
That means the film is both level-headed and impressively detailed throughout – which is absolutely commendable – but it’s at the expense of a rousing sense of passion that could have made the film so much more powerful.
And with that, there’s so much about Misbehaviour that just doesn’t hit the mark. It’s an engaging watch without a doubt, but it’s never a genuinely passionate or gripping insight into the origins of feminism and the immense impact of the events that unfolded at Miss World in 1970.
As a result, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed by Misbehaviour. It’s a good watch, and definitely provides great historical value, but it’s far from the most enthralling film, lacking a passion and fervour that could have added so much to its tale of fighting for equality. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.1 overall.