A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Misbehaviour is an uplifting British drama based on the real events surrounding the 1970 Miss World competition. It contains plenty of positive messages, including standing up for what you believe in. During the competition, women parade around in swimsuits on stage for the male gaze. But the movie is incredibly critical of this old-fashioned culture -- sexist comments and the objectification of women. The portrayal of the protestors are that of regular, working women and students fighting to create a more equal society. Sally (Keira Knightley) is also applauded for chasing her dreams as an academic, at odds with societal pressures of the time to merely be a housewife. In one scene, the protests include objects being thrown on stage and the brandishing of a "fake" gun. A character then hits a policeman over the head. As befits the time period, characters smoke frequently and there is some drinking but no depiction of drunkenness. The movie offers a striking look into how far we've come since the 1970s, while admitting that there's still a long way to go. The Miss World contenders are seen as being empowered, and their beauty is diverse and celebrated for being so. The movie should inspire young girls, and boys for that matter. The only profanity in the movie is the word "bloody."
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What's the story?
Set in 1970, in MISBEHAVIOUR, Sally Alexander (Keira Knightley) befriends renegade student Jo Robinson (Jessie Buckley) as they fight for equality between genders. Despite their approaches being different -- Sally being more conservative -- they join forces to make a public stand at the Miss World beauty competition in London. With Bob Hope (Greg Kinnear) hosting, they see an opportunity to protest on live television. But they must also make it clear to the contestants, such as Grenada's Jennifer Hosten (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) that their fight is against the concept of judging women on their bodies, rather than attacking the girls themselves.
Is it any good?
This movie enters sensitive and interesting territory that is delicately tackled, and creates a nuanced and layered drama. Knightley and Mbatha-Raw impress, and while the movie can be accused of being quite cliche at times, it's enriched by a strong, and sadly still relevant storyline.
Misbehaviour follows in a long line of uplifting British dramas, in the same vein as Made in Dagenham and Suffragette, though perhaps just abides by convention a little too much. It's a fascinating story for director Philippa Lowthorpe to untangle, because the issue is a complex one. Naturally we side with the female protestors, risking everything to help create a fairer society. But is the Miss World event the right place to start? Contestant Jennifer Hosten (Mbatha-Raw) isn't so sure, for she feels any success she may have would inspire young black girls to realize that their beauty is valued, and shouldn't just accept what they see in movies and magazines.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the gender equality in Misbehaviour. Discuss the history of women's rights. Is it surprising that women were forced into acting in such a way? What other examples from history are there of women fighting for a fairer society? How important is it that there is more equality in the world?
Were the protestors right to choose Miss World because of what it represents? Or was that competition important in proving that beauty is diverse and global?
Talk about the power of protesting. What do you feel passionately about or would like to change? How is the likes of Greta Thunberg an inspiration?
- In theaters: March 13, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: September 25, 2020
- Cast: Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jessie Buckley
- Director: Philippa Lowthorpe
- Studio: Shout! Studios
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Activism, Great Girl Role Models
- Character strengths: Courage, Integrity, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 106 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: October 11, 2021
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