Misbehaviour (2020) A Review

As more and more titles are being pushed back due to Coronavirus, I was thankful that this film, which may be the last new release I see for a while, was actually pretty good.

Certificate: 12A

Director: Philippa Lowthorpe

Screenwriter: Rebecca Frayn

Starring: Keira Knightley, Jessie Buckley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Genre: Drama, History

Runtime: 106 Minutes

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

Production companies really are on a roll this year putting out great historical dramas.  And while this one won’t be up there for me with ‘Just Mercy’ or ‘Dark Waters’ it is still a great story, with some great characters, telling a really important story.

It is 1970, and in London everyone is getting ready for the Miss World competition.  However, they are under heavy criticism from the newly founded Women’s Liberation Movement, who argue the competition is nothing more than a glorified cattle market.  On the night of the show, a select group from Women’s Lib launch a protest from the audience, leaving the show in chaos and poor Bob Hope covered in flour.

I feel like it’s been a while since I have seen Keira Knightley in anything that I can remember.  Here she played Sally Alexander, one of the leaders of the motley crew of protesters, who finds herself battered on all sides by people telling her she is wrong for fighting for her equal rights.  Knightley does a fairly good performance here, but really shines come the end of the film when her character has really found her voice and isn’t afraid to use it.  At the beginning she seems to have all these lofty ideas but lacks the balls (pardon the pun) to do anything about them.  Jessie Buckley however is probably the exact opposite.  She is the ying to Knightley’s yang. Outspoken, passionate and abrasive, her character is the one who really sticks out throughout the entire film and is the one I will remember well after I leave the screen.

And for a film that touches A LOT on the world of beauty queens and the political correctness of beauty pageants, the film does an excellent job at presenting the characters as whole, developed, interesting people.  We only hear very little of Miss Africa South’s backstory, but you feel for her from the second you hear it.  It would have been easy to use these women as a source of comedy relief, to make them into caricatures, but thankfully they steered away from that, for the most part (I’m looking at you Miss USA.)

In the midst of the #MeToo movement, it would have been easy for this film to take itself to seriously and wave a big feminism flag in your face,  Instead in deals with its social issues subtly and with a good sense of humour, proving that movies dealing with these issues don’t always have to be a case of gloom and doom.  There are plenty of moments to chuckle about too, and by the end, if you are at all politically inclined, you do feel a sense of pride for what these women achieved.

I did feel like a pacing was a little off.  A lot of the scenes involving Bob Hope, that were there I suppose to give us an idea of his character, just didn’t seem necessary, and I do feel like the editing could have been a little tighter when it came to behind the scenes of the Beauty Pageant.  The last half an hour or so were jam packed with greatness, but it did lag in places.

Misbehaviour is out in UK cinemas Now.

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