Cert 12A Stars 3
Feminists rock the Royal Albert Hall in this disappointingly tame and light-hearted account of the controversial true events of the 1970 Miss World beauty contest final, a competition with a then bigger global TV audience than the Moon landing or the World Cup.
There’s some great British on show, as Keira Knightley and Jessie Buckley lead the charge as activists disrupting the show with rattles, flour bombs and water pistols.
Knightley is engaging and earnest as always, and well cast as the posh single mother and mature student who’s drawn into the world of activism after being belittled in academia.
When she meets a sneering commune dweller, she becomes a key player in sadly the least interesting and convincing performance by the usually brilliant Buckley.
Sympathy is given to the thinly sketched contestants who see the substantial cash prize as the means to a better life, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw offers dignity as the eventual winner Miss Grenada.
Her best moment is when she points out to Knightley how the struggles of white western women are very different in scope to those of black African women, but generally she struggles with the weak script along with everyone else.
Rhys Ifans gives a clownish turn as impresario, Eric Morley, and Greg Kinnear gives an listless and unflattering portrait of showbiz legend and host, Bob Hope.
Billed as a comedy-drama but less than compelling on either front, its refusal to portray any sleazy or predatory behaviour – Bob Hope aside – lessens the dramatic impact, which undersells the women’s achievement in garnering global publicity and kickstarting the feminist movement in the public consciousness.
And always pulling its punches, it barely hints at any possible influence the Prime Minister of Grenada may have exercised on the contest as a member of the judging panel.
Despite its best intentions Misbehaviour is as unthinking a celebration of sisterhood as the contest itself.