Miss World is the oldest international beauty pageant. Starting in 1951, the pageant awards women not only for their beauty but how they contribute to society, through things like charity work and service to their community. The pageant has been met with many controversies over the years, and 'Misbehaviour' documents what went down at the 1970 competition.
The 1970 Miss World took place in London with Bob Hope (Greg Kinnear, 'Strange but True', 'Brigsby Bear') hosting the event. A group of women who are part of the newly formed Women's Liberation Movement believe that beauty competitions objectify women and they decide to disrupt the live broadcast, which will be seen by over 100 million viewers worldwide. At this same Miss World, the first black women was crowned the winner, and both events, in turn, start a takedown of the patriarchy and begin to challenge Western ideals of beauty.
While the film is at times generic and formulaic, its impressive cast led by Keira Knightley ('The Nutcracker and the Four Realms', 'The Imitation Game') and Jessie Buckley ('I'm Thinking of Ending Things', 'Judy') as well as Gugu Mbatha-Raw ('A Wrinkle in Time', 'Miss Sloane') help to make the film feel fresh. The film takes a while to get going; when Miss World and the riots begin, it's the perfect blend of uprising and madness. Mozart's 'Requiem Dies Irae' starts to play and its every woman for themselves.
While the film is at times generic and formulaic, its impressive cast help to make the film feel fresh.
The film also does a good job of juxtaposing the pageant girls with the Women's Liberation girls, partially with Sally Alexander (Knightley) and Jennifer Hosten, Miss Grenada (Mbatha-Raw). Sally feels she has to fight back for her daughter and for her future, while Jennifer is a black model who wants to fight back but can't and has to play by the rules to change the future for not only herself but her race. She talks about how her winning is going to inspire millions of young girls and show them that the world isn't so white. Fighting for your rights looks different to each and every person, and everyone's voice is needed to change the future.
'Misbehaviour' may fall into the formulaic territory at times, but that's not a bad thing - the story of what happened at the 1970 Miss World competition is a powerful one that deserves to be remembered.