Ahlia Karam | 26/11/2020

Misbehaviour is based on the true story of a spark to the Women’s Liberation Movement and a subversion of the western ideas of beauty.


The film features a solid performance from Kiera Knightley as Sally Alexander - feminist activist and soon to be academic. The film follows the story of her meeting radical activist Jo Robbinson (Jessie Buckley) and officially joining the Women's Liberation Movement. The target of their next disruption is the 1970 Miss World Competition being held in London. Now these ladies don’t have any issue with the competitors, but rather the idea that the women should be judged by their measurements, weight and how well they fit the male gaze. The patriarchy is alive and well, but the WLM are here to knock it down. 


Director Philippa Lowthorpe has created a palatable version of women’s ongoing struggle against the heel of the male dominated society we live in. Writing by Gaby Chiappe and Rebecca Frayn added a sense of humour to what could otherwise be a hard pill to swallow for some. There was a warmth and comfort to the script that will keep the audience engaged and seeking resolution. 


The story grips the audience at a solid pace, introducing the main players that lead to the disruption of the 1970 Miss World Competition. The audience are given an understanding of the old fashioned nature of the founder of the Miss World pageant, Eric Morley (Rhys Ifans), and the show's co-host comedian Bob Hope (Greg Kinnear), both of whom unintentionally sparked the disruption of the pageant they held so dear. 


Disappointingly the story is still largely white washed, only briefly touching on the intricate significance of two women of colour being included for the first time. Jennifer Hosten (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) Miss Grenada becoming the first black woman to win Miss World and Pearl Jensen (Loreece Harrison) Miss Africa South to be the first woman of colour from South Africa competing (and winning first runner up). What would benefitted the true complexity of this story is a better understanding of these women and the lead up to their wins - both for themselves and for black women everywhere. 


This film was a soft take on the hard issue of feminism, but it will appease the masses. It must be said that this film is still wholly topical in our current male dominated society. The Women’s Liberation Movement made major waves but there are still oceans to go. This film will hopefully stand as a reminder that women are still making cents on the dollar to men, their worth is judged on weight and colour and society is yet to sit even close to equality. The story shows that the only people that were really hurt from this disturbance of the peace were those desperately holding onto a society of the past. 


In the end, girls just want to have fun … damental human rights.