Still image from the movie Peterloo
Mike Leigh’s epic historic tribute ticks all the boxes in his latest drama.
Set in 1819 Northern England, the film follows the lives of Manchester citizens living in squalor as they prepare for a mass scale peaceful protest against an oblivious government living in quite opposite circumstances.
Coming in at two hours and thirty-four minutes, Leigh uses the lengthy drama to examine every profession in the city and their perspective of the protest. Although at first Salford’s own Maxine Peake, who puts in a fantastic performance as a struggling mother trying to provide for her family is thought to be the main character at first, the story quickly moves on and spends most of its time examining the whole cast and their own individual struggles in the lead up to the protest.
My personal favourite performance came from stage and screen veteran Rory Kinnear who plays the much beloved and charismatic radical speaker Henry Hunt who was invited to lead the speeches at Peterloo.
The film’s incredible attention to detail and well-cast ensemble make this picture into an almost epic and dramatic history lesson without being cringe worthy or belittling. Not only does this offering to the world of cinema provide solid entertainment but also a much-needed introduction to these events for those who weren’t aware, myself included.
Although it could be argued that the two hours thirty-four runtime is a bit much with scenes dragging out perhaps a bit longer than they should be and concentration hard to hold at times, the investment in the characters and their lengthy assessments is all worth it for when the film eventually reaches its monumental conclusion.
Director- Mike Leigh
Starring- Maxine Peake
Running length- 2 hours 34 minutes