director: Philippa Lowthorpe (swallows and amazons)
starring: keira knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, jessie buckley and greg kinnear
REVIEWER: lyall carter
A group of women part of the Women's Liberation Movement create a plan in order to disrupt the 1970 Miss World beauty competition in London.
I love a good oppressed, underdog fighting against the system film. Suffragettes, On the Basis of Sex and Pride are just some of those movies that show disenfranchised, minority groups fighting for their place in the world. But the difference between those films and Misbehaviour is that the ‘enemy’ is clear in those films and not so much in this. While the acting is first class and the story funny and engaging you can’t help feeling that only a piece of this story has actually been told.
In 1970, the Miss World competition took place in London, hosted by US comedy legend, Bob Hope. At the time, Miss World was the most-watched TV show on the planet with over 100 million viewers. Claiming that beauty competitions demeaned women, the newly formed Women’s Liberation Movement achieved overnight fame by invading the stage and disrupting the live broadcast of the competition.
The narrative of Misbehaviour is split into two parts. One following the women protestors and the other following some of the Miss World competitors. But even that split is somewhat uneven with more time dedicated to the protestors over the competitors.
Even though some of the ideas and stories are riveting and engaging, Misbehaviour spends a lot of time explaining things that we already know. There are elements to beauty pageants that are demeaning and a little bit slimy. We know that there are some male characters part of those pageants that can be predatory and just creepy to be honest. But, we know all of that already.
But what would have been interesting to explore would be Jennifer Hosten’s story who, after the pageant, went on to achieve a masters in political science and worked as a diplomat, development worker and author. Unfortunately her wider story and view on the pageant is sidelined to the story and opinion of the protestors. Perhaps we will see Hosten’s full story on the screen someday.
While the acting is first class and the story funny and engaging you can’t help feeling that only a piece of this story has actually been told.