“The contest” – film review
The contest is the perfect film contribution to the current debate about racism and chauvinism in our society – nicely packaged in a story about a politically charged miss election that Keira Knightley tries to break up as a feminist student and in which a dark-skinned candidate from South Africa is running for the first time – a real one, by the way, Occurrence around 50 years before #metoo. Mireille Zirpins reveals in her short video review why one can watch the retro drama well.
London 1970. The time of bell-bottoms and flower power, the post-68 era after student revolts in many countries. A lot has changed in society. But things are still going well for women. If you are lucky, you can work as a secretary – if your husband agrees. By the way, that was the case in Germany until 1977.
This is the social climate in which Sally Alexander (Keira Knightley) raises her daughter alone after the divorce and, unmarried, dates Gareth (John Heffernan), fortunately quite emancipated for his time, but in the film quite pale. It’s no wonder that she defiantly says that she is happy that, being unmarried again, she can finally decide on her own life on her own. But it is stressful for the single parent who finally wants to take care of her education and start studying. And realizes that the elite university is of course also a bastion for men. The contest
But the basically bourgeois Sally also meets a few wild feminists on campus who are only guests there and want to stir up the elite Chauvis. She quickly becomes friends with the militant women’s rights activists around the lively Jo (Jessie Buckley from “Chernobyl”). The next goal of the powerful women’s troop: They want to torpedo the election of Miss World – a meat inspection that looked out of time at the time, but is still there. The contest
At the event, where the ladies are patted on the pillow in their bra and the old men organizers squad (personified by Rhys Ifans as the presidential election boss Morley and Greg Kinnear as the sleazy presenter Bob Hope) “humorous” sayings about their too much or Not having to listen to curves, the fronts run completely different. The event by white men for white men with beautiful, of course, white women is accused of a lack of diversity – so a “Beauty of Color” from Grenada (Gugu Mbatha-Raw from “Motherless Brooklyn” plays Jennifer Hosten) should be conjured up quickly. And the “unofficial” Miss South Africa with dark skin (Loreen Harrison as Pearl Jansen), although there is already a white beauty queen in the race from there. The contest
Look! So that was noticed fifty years ago! No wonder Keira Knightley, who cares about feminism, likes to play this role in Philippa Lowthorpe’s film (“Call The Midwife”). Today we’re not much further. But at least an important step. And that’s what this film is about. A committed drama in which it takes a while for the dark-skinned contestants and the rebellious feminists to realize that they are actually fighting for the same cause: for equality.
The film will start in German cinemas on October 1, 2020.