Critic Consensus: Peterloo proves writer-director Mike Leigh's populist anger remains undimmed - but that righteous fury occasionally overpowers the narrative.
as Henry Hunt
as Prince Regent
as John Bagguley
as Samuel Bamford
as John Knight
as Magistrate Rev Etlhelson
as Lord Sidmouth, the Home Secretary
as Lord Liverpool, the Prime Minister
as Mr. Hobhouse
as Mr. Grout
as Mr. Golightly
as Kane-Mr. Cobb
as Mrs. Moss
as General Sir John Byng
as Jemima Bamford
News & Interviews for Peterloo
Critic Reviews for Peterloo
It's talky, but a lot of the talk is quite interesting and passionate. It's sort of like being in a really good town hall meeting.
Still, it is a powerful, important part of anger-fueled history and is worth seeing.
Crucial to Leigh's very British notion of democracy is a commitment to showing people as they really are -- or as he sees them, in all their knobbly imperfections. Crucial, too, is the fact that even an epic like Peterloo remains a film without heroes.
Once again, the director proves himself to be a master of basic human conflict, on whatever scale is necessary.
A bit of ruthlessness in editing - a good hour or so - would certainly make "Peterloo" a better film.
Audience Reviews for Peterloo
Mike Leigh is a famed writer/director who often writes from a working class perspective, so it's no surprise he would go back to a notable 1819 British massacre where local ruling magistrates and abusive militia mowed down and killed a dozen citizens that had gathered in Manchester to rally for worker rights and voting representation. I was ignorant to the injustice in history but went in suspecting a horrible confrontation by the end. When the tragedy does strike, it's searing and upsetting and moving. The problem is that it takes forever to get to the moment that we've been waiting for and that finally provides meaning for the movie. Peterloo is far too long at two and a half hours and it takes a solid two of those hours just to finally march our characters into the awaiting tragedy of its title. Leigh paints a realistic mosaic of the many working class and middle-class people of the time, families struggling for work, men processing PTSD from the recent Napoleonic wars, political leaders articulating the pathways for reform measures, and Leigh and his production team are very good at recreating the industrial Manchester reality with care and precision. Leigh's ear for dialogue is almost documentarian. However, for those two hours, Peterloo amounts to a slice of life of relatively boring people living boring lives until the big incident that makes them notable, namely that they were abused and died horribly. It becomes a waiting game where you get anxious for the tragedy to arrive. Another choice that harms the film's impact is how incredibly over-the-top the villains are written and performed; these are mustache-twirling caricatures of greedy, venal business men, factory owners, and power brokers and their performances are so slimy that they feel like they transported from the most black-and-white of fantasy tropes. It feels like these people would be relaxing by putting their feet up over a pile of child corpses. It gets to be downright campy how the villains are portrayed. Peterloo is ultimately an enraging movie that is far too boring for far too long to feel much more than a sense of relief when it's over. Nate's Grade: C+
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