Posted by: hellonhairylegs | March 30, 2008

Movie Review: Iron Jawed Angels



Director: Katja von Garnier

Actors: Hilary Swank, Frances O’Connor, Anjelica Huston

Stars: 4/5


Simply a great movie about a sliver of time in this history of the American suffragist movement. Interesting and inspiring. 


My main criticism is that sometimes it ventured into the realm of “don’t be afraid of the evil feminists, we’re feminine and hawt too,” for which I docked half a star. There was a feeble attempt at romance between Alice Paul (Hillary Swank) and a cartoonist at the Washington Post (Patrick Dempsey). It was a waste of time in an otherwise concise and emotive film.


Overall the film is eons ahead of something like 27 Dresses, a subject of a former review which was somewhat harsh. Admittedly I’d say this about almost any film which looks at the history of feminism is a positive light. Beyond the agreeable concepts there lay a solid film with interesting visuals and better-than-average acting. The shots and the angles used were creative, though disorientating to some viewers given the tilting and twirling of the camera. It is a film that has the power to engage the brain while successfully entertaining an audience that isn’t actively opposed to women being human.


In short this film looked at the how American women got the right to vote, following the journey of Alice Paul and her fellow suffragettes. It did a good job of looking across class, having both a senator’s wife and a factory girl as members of the core team. I docked the other half star as it touched on the issue of race but didn’t explore it at all. It makes me sad to think that the suffragette/ feminist movement and the abolitionist/ civil rights movement continually stabbed each other in the back. Can my readers think of any modern day parallels?


As I was watching it I was struck by how rare it is to see a movie with female central characters where the action does not take place in a high school. As a feminist who wants to see the contribution of all humans acknowledged I believe it is important that powerful female characters are depicted beyond puberty and even more important for the role of women in history to be recorded.


It was also the first movie I’ve seen in several months that didn’t make me want to put a brick through the TV.



  1. I’ve been reading back from your current post, and I just wanted to say- your blog is wonderful!
    Also, I really like this movie.

  2. I first had to watch this movie during my junior year for history class for extra credit and I didn’t know it would be this good. As a teenager I’m not really into those “old-time” movies, but this kept me coming for more and I’ve continued watching it like 5 times.

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