The person that thought to call Alice Paul (Hilary Swank) and Lucy Burns (Francis O'Connor) a pair of "iron jawed angels" deserves a cookie.
Directed by Katja von Garnier for HBO Films, 1912 Philadelphia comes alive in the depiction of the struggles of two young suffrage activists who break down Congress' overwhelming opposition towards the women's movement. The film's women are exceptional characters -- they wholly and completely negate the clich‚ of the unfeeling and dry suffragist persona. They display a purity of heart and a true affection for their cause and each other. Through picket lines, death, hunger strikes and unconstitutional arrests, this story garishly displays the corrupt government of the times, which unites all women regardless of social class and race in the quest for a woman's right to vote.
The plot and storyline may be reminiscent of many plight-to-fight dramas, but the film's starkness in depicting a male-gendered America makes Alice Paul that much more noteworthy in her ability to open up our country's eyes. Of course, there is the staple romantic connection between the heroine and some swoon-worthy fellow -- played by Patrick Dempsey in this case. What the movie doesn't do, however, is turn into a sappy romantic dud; instead, the attraction that Alice feels for this guy emphasizes her iron-clad will to achieve her goal without intervention -- whether it be an on-the-side fling or otherwise.
These two virtually unknown women are the epitome of the women's movement, and it is an injustice to their cause that Alice Paul's and Lucy Burns's battle to be heard is just now being recognized. After all, as President of HBO Films Colin Callender said, "Without Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, there would have been no Carrie Bradshaw"