Set in pre-World War One London in 1912 and 1913, this stirring account of the struggle to achieve votes for women from director Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane) and screenwriter Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady) is a compelling tribute to the unsung footsoldiers in the fight for female suffrage rather than its upper-class leaders.

Carey Mulligan anchors the film as (fictional) East End laundry worker Maud Watts, vividly conveying the physical and emotional toll as Maud goes on a journey from resigned acceptance of the status quo to radical militancy, turning in the process from passive bystander to zealous activist.

She gets strong support from Ben Whishaw as Maud’s testy husband and from Helena Bonham Carter as a well-educated pharmacist passionately committed to the suffrage cause, while Meryl Streep delivers a brief but telling cameo as Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst.