Misbehaviour (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byPhilippa Lowthorpe
Screenplay by
Story byRebecca Frayn
Produced by
  • Suzanne Mackie
  • Sarah-Jane Wheale
CinematographyZac Nicholson
Edited byÚna Ní Dhonghaíle
Music byDickon Hinchliffe[1]
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures UK
Release date
  • 14 March 2020 (2020-03-14)
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$2 million[4][5]

Misbehaviour is a 2020 British comedy-drama film directed by Philippa Lowthorpe, from a screenplay by Gaby Chiappe and Rebecca Frayn, from a story by Frayn. The film stars Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jessie Buckley, Keeley Hawes, Phyllis Logan, Lesley Manville, Rhys Ifans and Greg Kinnear.

Misbehaviour was released in the United Kingdom on 14 March 2020 by Pathé's distribution partner Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through 20th Century Fox. It is the final film from Pathé UK to be released under the 20th Century Fox name.


Sally Alexander successfully applies to study History at University College London. At a conference on women's rights she meets Jo Robinson, a feminist activist. After helping Jo evade arrest for defacing a sexist billboard advertisement, Jo introduces Sally to her women's group where she is invited to collaborate on the group's messaging and media as part of a planned protest at the 1970 Miss World competition, which is due to take place in London. American comedian Bob Hope is hired to present the event over the objections of Hope's wife Dolores, who is angered by Hope's affair with the winner of the 1961 edition.

The Miss World contestants arrive in the city. Among them are Pearl Jansen (Miss "Africa South"), who the organizers have included to deflect criticisms of collaboration with the Apartheid regime, and Jennifer Hosten (Miss Grenada). Jennifer and Pearl bond over their shared experience of anti-black racism. Jennifer also befriends Marjorie Johansson (Miss Sweden), the favorite, who confesses to feeling demeaned and exploited by the competition. Frustrated by the casual sexism she experiences at university, Sally hatches a plan to disrupt the live television broadcast of the Miss World contest by infiltrating the crowd. Several members of the group volunteer and buy audience tickets. Pearl privately confesses to Jennifer that the regime warned her that if she spoke out about the treatment of black South Africans she wouldn't be allowed to return home. Sally and her mother argue about Sally's activism and the toll her mother believes it's taking on Sally's daughter and her relationship with her partner Gareth.

A car bomb, attributed to an anarchist group, explodes outside the theatre hosting the event. Despite Gareth's pleas for Sarah to call off the protest, she and Jo resolve to proceed. The competition begins, with the contestants, audience, organizers and Hope having to cross a picket line of protestors. Hope introduces the event with a series of sexist jokes. The judging panel whittles the number of contestants down to a final seven, among them Pearl and Jennifer. Jo and Sally's group start the protest by heckling Hope and flour-bombing the stage. Jo and Sally are arrested. The broadcast is temporarily halted but resumes shortly afterwards. Pearl wins second place before it is announced that Jennifer is Miss World - the first woman of color to win. Backstage she has a conversation with Sally, who is being taken away by police, where they disagree over the protest.

A post-script explains that Jennifer went on to study Political Science and International Relations, later becoming Grenada's High Commissioner to Canada. Sally became Professor of Modern History at the University of London. Jo gave birth five months after the competition and later trained as a midwife. Pearl returned home to South Africa and became a singer after the fall of Apartheid. The protest succeeded in widely-publicising the women's liberation movement. The film finally notes that "Attempts to bring down the patriarchy remain ongoing."



The film was announced in October 2018, with Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jessie Buckley set to star. Philippa Lowthorpe was set to direct.[6] In November 2018, Lesley Manville, Greg Kinnear, Keeley Hawes, Rhys Ifans and Phyllis Logan had joined the cast of the film.[7] In September 2018 Collet Collins joined the cast, and in January 2019 Suki Waterhouse and Clara Rosager joined.[8][9]


Principal photography began in November 2018. Filming in the Crofton Park area of Lewisham in southeast London occurred in early January 2019.[10]


The film was released in the United Kingdom on 13 March 2020.[11] Shout Studios was named as the distributor in the United States.[12] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film's theatrical release was cut short, and the film was released early to video on demand in the United Kingdom on 15 April.[13]

The movie was released on DVD in the United Kingdom by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on 7 September 2020.[14] As of 2021, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment was re-printing under licence from Pathé.[citation needed]

The film was inspired by an edition of the BBC Radio 4 series The Reunion, broadcast in September 2010.[citation needed]


Box office[edit]

Misbehaviour grossed £347,643 in its opening weekend in the United Kingdom[15] and a total of £455,088[16] locally and $2,024,073 worldwide.[4]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 85% based on reviews from 95 critics, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Misbehaviour's overall arc will be familiar to fans of feelgood British cinema – and so will the way it triumphs over formula to tell a thoroughly crowd-pleasing story."[17] On Metacritic, it has a score of 62, based on reviews from 15 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews".[18]

Richard Roeper wrote, "Following the playbook of 'The Full Monty,' 'Calendar Girls,' 'Military Wives,' et al., 'Misbehaviour' achieves just the right mix of farcical humor, dry wit and the obligatory dramatic moments when the light banter and sight gags give way to Poignant Confrontations reminding us there are serious undertones to this breezy romp."[19]

Sheila O'Malley of RogerEbert.com of the film gave a mixed review. Though O'Malley praised screenwriters Rebecca Frayn and Gaby Chiappe for focusing on the intersecting stories of both the protesters and pageant competitors, she noted "it's treated as a given that pageants are sexist and gross, [yet] the scenes of pageant rehearsals plus the camaraderie of the contestants tells a different story. The separate storyline structure runs into trouble because these ideas don't have a chance to develop or take root."[20]


  1. ^ "Dickon Hinchliffe Scoring Philippa Lowthorpe's 'Misbehaviour' | Film Music Reporter". Film Music Reporter. 5 November 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  2. ^ Felperin, Leslie (10 March 2020). "'Misbehaviour': Film Review". Hollywood Reporter.
  3. ^ "Misbehaviour: Synopsis". Empire Cinemas. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Misbehaviour (2020)". The Numbers. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  5. ^ "Misbehaviour (2020)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  6. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (17 October 2018). "Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw & Jessie Buckley To Star In Miss World Film 'Misbehaviour' For Left Bank & Pathé – AFM". Deadline Hollywood.
  7. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (26 November 2018). "'Misbehaviour': Greg Kinnear & Lesley Manville To Play Bob & Dolores Hope In Keira Knightley Miss World Movie". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  8. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (8 January 2019). "Suki Waterhouse To Play Miss USA In Keira Knightley-Fronted Miss World Movie 'Misbehaviour'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  9. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (9 January 2019). "Scandi Actress Clara Rosager To Play Miss Sweden In Keira Knightley Pageant Protest Movie 'Misbehaviour'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  10. ^ Parfitt, Orlando (26 November 2018). "Lesley Manville, Greg Kinnear, Keeley Hawes join Pathé, Left Bank project 'Misbehaviour'". Screen International. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  11. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (19 December 2019). "'Misbehaviour' Trailer: Keira Knightley & Gugu Mbatha-Raw Star In Comedy-Drama About 1970 Miss World Comp". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  12. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (16 March 2020). "Shout! Studios Lands Pageant Drama 'Misbehaviour' Starring Keira Knightley & Gugu Mbatha-Raw". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  13. ^ Grater, Tom (6 April 2020). "Keira Knightley Starrer 'Misbehaviour' – UK & Ireland Film Releases Heading Online Early Due To Coronavirus Disruption". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  14. ^ Brew, Simon (17 July 2020). "Misbehaviour finally heading to DVD in September". Film Stories. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  15. ^ "United Kingdom Weekend Box Office 13th March 2020 - 15th March 2020". 25th Frame. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  16. ^ "FDA Yearbook 2021". Film Distributors Association. p. 36. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  17. ^ "Misbehaviour (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango.
  18. ^ "Misbehaviour". Metacritic. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  19. ^ Roeper, Richard (23 September 2020). "'Misbehaviour': Feminists crash the pageant in a cheeky British period piece". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 23 September 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  20. ^ O'Malley, Sheila (25 September 2020). "Misbehaviour movie review & film summary (2020) | Roger Ebert". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 1 July 2022.

External links[edit]