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Non-Review Review: Misbehaviour

Misbehaviour is a charming an engaging film that suffers slightly from the lack of a clear focal point.

Philippa Lowthorpe’s historical drama-comedy is set against the backdrop of the 1970 Miss World pageant in London. The event became something of a point of convergence in the cultural wars spilling over from the end of the sixties, a target for the anarchist fringe, the anti-apartheid campaign, and for the nascent women’s liberation movement. At the same time, a quieter revolution was taking place within the event itself. Grenada had sent its first contestant to take part, while South Africa sent a black woman to represent them for the first time.

Misbehaviour features an incredibly stacked cast and diverse array of perspectives, looking at the central event through a variety of radically different prisms. There’s a sense that Misbehaviour wants to offer a genuinely intersectional perspective on the events of that explosive contest, the film’s form resembling its core themes. It helps that Lowthorpe has assembled an increidbly charming cast, and that spending time with just about any member of the ensemble is a worthwhile endeavour of itself.

At the same time, though, the film struggles to balance its large ensemble. There are occasionally too many plates spinning, and too much space between them. By the time that the film has checked in on all the major characters and circled back around, dramatic momentum has been lost and the film has to spend a minute or two regaining its footing. As a result, Misbehaviour never works as well as it might, feeling a little too clumsy and broad. Still, there’s a lot to like about it.

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