This solid drama marks Mulligan's best screen work to date. She's mightily impressive here as the downtrodden laundry worker who has been continuously oppressed, her eyes slowly opened to the womens movement in the London of 1912, their struggle for more equal terms and the right to vote. Her journey from second class citizen to impassioned activist is charted with sturdy skill and she's always powerfully convincing, whether dealing with the guilt at not giving attention to her young son or attending violent rallies where her political conscience is awakened.
Excellent support is provided by Duff as the accomplice who draws her into the movement and Gleeson as the steadfast Inspector determined to stamp out the agitators. There's good work too from Whishaw as Mulligan's embarrassed husband, unable to deal with his wife's new confidence while Streep has star billing on the posters for a mere cameo as Emmeline Pankhurst, the movement's leader and spokeswoman.
Director Gavron's well-paced effort boasts strong production design, believably portraying the cobbled street capital in full cinematic glory - it's a British movie about a British historical subject that does not look like it should be on TV. Always involving and fiercely committed in its angry deliberations, it nevertheless fails to be memorable. One is engaged throughout but after one strangely does not take much from it. Perhaps it doesn't raise the hackles enough, but then this is but a small quibble for a worthy, well made affair that is formidable in all departments. Maybe it just needs that extra modicum of ferocity.