I think often about Keira Knightly and how the British angel is doing, mostly because we don't see her out and about as much as we used to, no matter how much we yearn for another street style shot of her and Jamie Dornan in low rise jeans (you know the one) to grace our screens. While we haven't been blessed with this breed of on-screen fodder, Knightly has bestowed something much more substantial upon us. Her new film, Misbehaviour.
The film is based on true events in a 1970 Miss World pageant in London, where the patriarchy, which was (and still is) completely alive and well was turned upside down when the Womens Liberation Movement invaded the pageant stage, claiming that such beauty competitions demeaned women to over 100 million viewers across the globe. The movement garnered overnight fame, and when the show resumed, the pageant results caused even more uproar when Miss Grenada was crowned the first Black woman to be named Miss World.
Knightley plays the role of Sally Alexander, the activist who invaded the Royal Albert Hall during the 1970 Miss World pageant and the woman at the helm of of the Women's Liberation Movement, protesting its patriarchal and outdated western beauty standards.
Knightly has long been vocal about her being a feminist, while penning essays on motherhood and the intersections between the two, which makes this role unsurprising for her to have taken on. “We’re all hypocrites,” she told the Financial Times “I came into this completely on the side of the women’s libbers. Totally. Completely. Yes, 100 per cent, this is disgusting. And yet, I am somebody that makes my living, most of my money, from being a model and from doing red carpets.” She explains.
“It doesn’t judge,” Knightley says of the film. “It doesn’t tell you what to think. It’s dealing with feminism, and intersectional privilege and racism. It felt very current, and yet it was 50 years ago.”. She's not wrong. These issues are still very much alive and well in today's society, and are often overlooked by those holding the privilege in order to continue benefitting them, especially in the case of white women, who play an undeniable role in upholding racial biases and patriarchal ideas, despite often hiding under the guise of feminism.
For Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays Miss Grenada in the film, this intersectionality was vital to her involvement in the film. In a W Magazine interview ahead of the film, Mbatha-Raw references a line which she says to Knightley during the film, "If I could, I'd wish to have your opportunities in life.". "Meaning, to be able to rebel the way you're rebelling, to throw flour bombs—for me, that's a luxury because I'm fighting my fight, and my fight is to be seen," she explained. "To legitimately be a winner of this competition, to be seen, to be represented. You can't underestimate the power in that."
Misbehaviour is available to watch in select theatres in Australia, on November 26. Watch the trailer below.