benschmidt’s review published on Letterboxd:
In 1819, a soldier survives the Battle of Waterloo, only to be slaughtered at a peaceful demonstration by soldiers of the very army he fought with. In 2018, an elderly woman who survived the Holocaust and one of the deadliest times on Earth, is slaughtered in a quiet Pittsburgh synagogue. History is full of ironies and bitter repetitions. The "unruly" crowd who demand reform and livable conditions are seen as malcontents and seditious instigators by the ruling class. One's labor is exploited while others watch the horses. A general gets an exorbitant bonus, while others settle for potato pie. Rhetoric can inspire bands of lowly people to see power in their bonds and to risk a little in order to exert great change on the gears of prevailing systems.
Leigh's movie is matter of fact and lived-in. The roar of the loom on the factory floor. The underground meetings. The women's reform movement. It's dramatic and compelling and feels like a pure window into 1819 England. The fear of the French Revolution spreading. The introduction of the loom. It's also a process movie: on one side, the mobilizing of the working class, the plotting of the event, even getting the headliner; on the other, the bureaucratic mechanics of intercepting mail, dispatching a lieutenant to look into the matter (the brutal irony of "Send all force available .... Show all restraint possible"), gathering informants, suspending habeus corpus. A shilling could quell the stomachs, but then they'd simply ask for more! Factions and schisms on all sides.
More movies like this, that really can get at all the threads that are occurring historically. Also true leftist angles, please and thanks.