Monday, May 24, 2021


Misbehaviour looks back at both the 1970 Miss World competition in London and a handful of women involved with the women's liberation movement who achieved overnight fame by invading the stage and disrupting the live broadcast. The script by Rebecca Frayn, who also directs, and Gaby Chiappe is a bit more nuanced than I expected. While the film certainly points out the numerous issues with the pageant objectifying the contestants for the public, it also showcases the good of Miss World offering opportunity to women all over the world and allowing both the panel's judges and its audience the opportunity to consider beauty in different forms.

Keira Knightley stars as a college student and new member of the more disruptive chapter of the WLM (Jessie Buckley, Ruby Bentall, Lily Newmark, among others). The 1970 pageant was memorable both for the protest, which disrupted the live telecast, and for the fact that Miss Grenada (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) became the first black woman to win. Greg Kinnear is a bit hammy playing Bob Hope, who the organizers (Rhys Ifans and Keeley Hawes) recruit as this year's celebrity. But, to be fair, he is playing Bob Hope.

A solid film all around, Misbehaviour examines the pageant from within by giving us a look at the young women who will compete from the Swedish favorite Clara Rosager to Loreece Harrison as the first ever black contestant from South Africa. We also see Sally Alexander's (Knightley) daily struggles in the college and in her home life buttng heads with her mother's (Phyllis Logan) views on a woman's role which Sally doesn't want to see passed on to her daughter. And, not least, we see the inside of the WLM movement and the struggles, bravery, disagreements, and fear the women deal with while attempting to stand-up and ask for equal treatment under the law.

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