Film, Reviews
Sep 22, 2020

Misbehaviour Starring Keira Knightly Review

Misbehaviour is currently playing OnDemand across the country. Misbehaviour follows the women’s liberation movement in the UK, and their protest at the Miss World Pageant.

Image Still Courtesy of BBC Films

Misbehaviour is directed by Phillippa Lowthorpe is a bright feminist comedy, that will leave you feeling inspired, and thoughtful. The film strives to give multiple points of view as we follow the timeline of the character’s lives. We did feel that Jennifer Hosten’s character (Mugu Mbatha-Raw) receives a rather skin deep treatment in her development, we love the attempt to diversify point’s of view. Keira’s character of Sally Alexander had the most fully developed storyline, but if we aren’t nit-picking you can really sit back and enjoy the story.

Not only is Misbehaviour entertaining, it is informative, and illuminating. History often undermines, or leaves out her story (“herstory”) as modern day feminists claim it. Misbehaviour sees a group of women not only speaking up, but also leaving their mark. This film should certainly make it to your must watch list of 2020. We’re glad it has hopped the pond from the UK cinematically speaking, into the US. Its a much needed story in the lexicon of cinema, which is in serious need of more women driven storylines.

As the film’s protagonist’s points of view are spread, it sits most comfortably and thoroughly explored in the life of protagonist Sally Alexander (Keira Knightley), a middle-class Londoner and second-wave feminist trying to shake off the cobwebs of a conservative upbringing by enrolling as a history student at Oxford, demanding her seat at the table, which her character refers to as a “highchair” as the film’s story progresses. Evelyn (Phyllis Logan) who portrays her highly conservative and traditionalist mother, urges Sally to settle for being a dedicated homemaker to her boyfriend and young daughter. Disheartened by the amount of sexism she encounters at Oxford, Sally instead finds a commonality in Jo Robinson (Buckley), the outspoken working-class ringleader of a rebellious feminist activist group. Sally’s character is the one who changes the groups mind on their anti-media stance. Urging to see the media as a better, more widespread platform to spread their voice and cause. Jo Robinson reluctantly agrees to take a more media friendly approach, in lieu of her current stance of it being the safeguard of the patriarchy. Sally is further embroiled in the group’s doings when Jo volunteers her to be the face of their movement, by appearing on a television program. The story unfolds from there. As we see Sally struggle with her home and family life, in contrast to her goals and aspirations for women’s rights, for her daughter’s future.

Meanwhile, we’re taken on a trip through the lives of the contestants. Seeing Jennifer aim for the crown, making a Caribbean, Black woman the first to ever take home the Miss World crown and title. Her fellow contestants are portrayed as friendly, and perhaps a bit aloof. Jennifer finds a friend in Miss Sweden, who has more leanings towards the women in the Women’s Liberation Movement, than her fellow contestants. And again we’re treated to another point of view, of a hope for opportunity in Miss “Africa South” during her time at the pageant. A Black South African woman competing alongside a white South African woman, who confesses her fears to Jennifer. With multiple points of view, of women from all different backgrounds, we’re able to enjoy this story as we dip into the different lives of the ensemble cast. Instead of feeling a disappointment of depth for the other character’s development, we relished the variety. So often we follow a single narrative in film, to see multiple points of view was refreshing.