‘Misbehaviour’ Movie Review: All-Star Cast Elevates Overextended Look At Feminist History
Misbehaviour is not a watershed moment for filmmaking, but it’s not trying to be either. There’s something fundamentally illuminating about a film that, through the power of its direction and performances, breathes life into a historical event. This movie may not reinvent the wheel, but it gives its viewers new angles on an important moment for second-wave feminism,
Keira Knightley plays Sally Alexander, a history student who gets involved with the nascent Women’s Liberation Movement, where she meets Jo Robinson (Jessie Buckley), whose brash attitude and no-compromise attitude pushes Sally’s boundaries in new and exciting ways.
The backdrop of this all in the 1970 Miss World competition, an event to which Sally and Jo find themselves fundamentally opposed. As Jennifer Hosten (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) stands poised to make history as one of the contest’s first black entrants, the film begins to explore the pluralities of feminism and how a single story told from multiple angles could produce different insights.
While director Philippa Lowthorpe is mostly successful in doing this, Misbehaviour is not without its slip-ups. The movie’s attempts to have both Sally and Jennifer be dual protagonists is serviceable, but not excellent — the former’s story is given far more drama than the latter’s. Perhaps the movie’s biggest mistake is also including Bob Hope (Greg Kinnear), the competition’s host, as a major character. He adds nothing to film, and his Lesley Manville-played wife ends up seeming like more of an afterthought than a truly crucial part of the narrative.
On the whole, though, Misbehaviour is equal parts entertaining and enlightening, a pleasant if not especially challenging waltz through a powerful moment in modern history.