Mike Leigh’s historical epic furiously lashes out at both past and present-day political order in this sprawling portrayal of warring classes.
Detailing the events that led to Manchester’s devastating 1819 Peterloo Massacre, which saw the government of the day ordering a brutal military charge into a crowd of pro-democracy protesters, Leigh’s narrative of jubilation and hope gradually gives way to one of fear and chaos, culminating in a simply stunning final sequence unlike anything he’s done before. (he’ll directing Bond next)
A terrific cast includes Rory Kinnear as popular, egocentric, political speaker Henry Hunt yet it’s Maxine Peake who steals it among a sea of brilliance, playing mother to a war-torn son while struggling to maintain hope that words, good and true, will bring about change and reform.
Few filmmakers have had such an impressive career as Mike Leigh, continuously showcasing his uncanny ability to immerse his audience in the authentic, textured lives of people both ordinary and extraordinary. A sombre invitation to contemplate how little attitudes have changed, Peterloo is no different, speaking with thunderous passion for the need for reform of parliamentary representation towards a shift in general social equality. It’s an ode to the people. (Research Chris Coetsee) Hmmm… don’t expect too many laughs.