Iron Jawed Angels Reviews
Infused with modern informalities and fictional romances, forestalled by a wildly incongruous soundtrack of post-feminist empowerment pop (Lauryn Hill, Sarah McLachlan, etc.), and cast with B-list Hollywood beauties (Hilary Swank, Frances O'Connor, etc.) who are sometimes hard to take seriously, the film is mostly a gross oversimplification depicting a gaggle of forward-thinking gal pals taking on sexist politicians and fuddy-duddy Susan B. Anthony types who don't like their radical methods of generating publicity (like picketing the White House during World War I).
However, director Katja Von Garnier takes a step back from her amped-up, sometimes stylish, sometimes tacky filmmaking as the women face extreme (and factual) consequences for their actions -- including political imprisonment and torture. This is when "Angels" hits an emotionally potent stride that resonates beyond the picture's shortcomings.
Unfortunately, the script is full of transparent contrivances (the meek wife of a fictional anti-suffrage senator learns to assert herself) and dubious choices (who green-lit the bathtub masturbation scene?). It provides little historical or political detail (some of these women were socialists and anti-war activists too), and barely (just barely) pays lip service to unflattering facts like the exclusion of black women from the movement.
Swank is more pretty than pugnacious as Alice Paul, the rabble-rousing founder of the Women's National Party, who gets further short-changed in the film's coda, which merely says she fought for women's rights her whole life without offering any details -- even relevant ones, like the fact that it took three tries to get the 19th Amendment through Congress. Still, despite its many, many flaws, "Iron Jawed Angels" gives an ardent cinematic voice to a shamefully neglected story of progressive American courage."
- Rob Blackwelder (SPLICEDWire)
COULDN'T HAVE SAID IT BETTER MYSELF
Not surprisingly, it will be more enjoyable to women.
The centerpiece of this film is the work of Alice Paul (Hillary Swank) and Lucy Burns. These sufferagettes met in England and brought their passion home to the United States in 1912. They attracted a group of young, dedicated, educated women that went to work in Washington, D.C.,to lobby for the vote. This is the same year Woodrow Wilson took office. Their decision to picket the White House, even during the early days of WWI brought down the ire of many people upon them, and even resulted in their unlawful arrests and imprisonment. Alice Paul was the heart and soul of this effort and, though she was a relative latecomer to the fight, provided the spark that inspired women to take up the challenge. The treatment of the sufferagettes in prison was eye-opening.
The cast is amazing, and there is not a weak performance among them. You will see many familiar faces among the cast.
The film is of high quality and deserves to be seen. There are a few disjointed scenes here and there, like Swank in the bathtub, but all in all, it is an excellent period piece dramatizing actual events.
Watching a film like this makes me ashamed about the times I have taken for granted the right to vote, and inspired me to be a better-informed voter and citizen.
5 stars, whithout a doubt.