Director Sarah Gavron's film straddles an awkward line between being a fine historical drama, a sprint through the broad strokes of the Suffragette movement, and an all-too-tidy glimpse into a past that definitely isn't over with yet.

Here we follow Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan), married with a young son, working in a Bethnal Green steam-house ironing collars, the job she's done since she was a child. Through coincidence she finds herself delivering a package when a group of Suffragettes take to smashing windows along a busy London street, one - Violet Miller (Anne Marie-Duff) - happens to also work at the steam house and encourages Maud to attend a meeting.

Ultimately, Violet is due to speak at a hearing petitioning for the right to vote to be extended to women, but Maud takes her place, giving her own testimony and becoming more deeply involved with women's Suffrage, alongside pharmacist Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter) and Emily Wilding Davison (Natalie Press).

This rankles Maud's husband, Sonny (Ben Wishaw), who encourages her to not pursue this quest, to stick to being a "good" wife and mother, and it also brings Maud under the attention of Inspector Arthur Steed (Brendan Gleeson), who is heading up the attempt to quell the women's Suffrage cause.

Where the film excels is in its performances, Carey Mulligan is brilliant as Maud, whilst her part could so easily have been burdened from being our window into the world, there's enough pain and defiance bubbling under the surface of Mulligan's expressive face to elevate every scene she's in - which is almost all of them. Most impressive is her relationship with her son - George (Adam Michael Dodd) - who delivers a charming and honest performance, and ultimately gets to share some of the film's most affecting moments as Sonny attempts to seperate the two of them.

Elsewhere, Anne Marie-Duff and Natalie Press do good work with limited roles, whilst Helen Bonham Carter's part feels oddly truncated. Meryl Streep shows up briefly as Emmeline Pankhurst, and her casting has the desired effect in creating this near-mythic status for one of the movement's figureheads.

Without wishing to sound too faceitious, the film at times feels like a "best of" compilation, which is perfectly understandable but means the film can feel more like a history lesson than an entirely compelling story all of its own. Some sequences, the sabotage of post boxes and a late-night raid of the Prime Minister's summer house, have a nail-biting tension, but others, fall a little flat, meaning that moments of horror perhaps don't have the resonance they deserve.

Similarly, there's a sense of "that was then" to the film that strips away the ongoing plight of the cause for equality, echoes with modern day protest - as seen at the Suffragette premiere, no less - are largely absent, meaning that it all seems like something that happened a long time ago and aren't we better off now that's all behind us. A closing text crawl just seems to further help in "othering" the issues at the heart of the movement, which extended far beyond just the right to vote.

One scene, a moment in bed between Sonny and Maud, manages to pose the question at the heart of the film quite succinctly, and some of the exchanges between Maud and Inspector Steed are equally loaded, but, unfortunately, Abi Morgan's script means that sometimes the dialogue feels lifted from a thesis rather than articulated in a dramatic fashion.

In the end I was hoping the film would resonate with a continued call to arms, a call to recognise the ongoing inequalities and injustices carried out on a daily basis, and there are shades of this, especially in seeing how both the government attempt to control the media and how the media attempts to demonise and misrepresent movements we now recognise as being right-thinking.

Despite these problems, Suffragette is a well made, wonderfully acted film, that works as a good primer on the women's Suffrage movement, but invites further investigation, and perhaps opens the door to more - and better - films on the subject.