'Deeds not words' was the slogan employed by the militant arm of the Suffragettes who grappled with police and attacked politicians houses.

And it is the actions of a few east London members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), rather than the intricacies of the movement's wider political wranglings, that film Suffragette hones in on.

In fact, as the singular title suggests, the film, which will open the BFI London Film Festival next week, focuses on the story of one, fictitious women to try and convey the motives of many.

Writer Abi Morgan, who lives in Crouch End, explains why she baulked at the idea of writing a biopic of real-life leading Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst or her daughters Christabel and Sylvia.

"I decided that the most interesting approach would be to consider the movement through the eyes of an ordinary uncelebrated woman, to explore how injustice can radicalise, how people can be drawn towards fundamentalism and be willing to sacrifice everything in pursuit of an ideal.”

The film opens in 1912 in the heat of an east London laundry room, recreated in a Harpenden warehouse, and our heroine Maud, played by Carey Mulligan, is sent to deliver a package and gets caught up in a riot led by women in central London. Bosses had the challenge of completing this scene in Cornhill, central London in just one day and also had the prestige and pressure of being the first crew to ever have access to the House of Commons at the Palace of Westminster, where they filmed an enormous riot in the central courtyard with hundreds of extras.

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Filming Suffragette CREDIT UKParliamentStefan Hill

This event, where the Prime Minister reveals the government will not be giving women the vote, galvanizes Maude into action and we follow her story as she is drawn into the world of the Suffragettes, losing almost all she has along the way.

Director Sarah Gavron explains: "We did extensive research, poring over unpublished diaries and memoirs, police records and academic texts. We then created this composite, fictional character of Maud, who participates in real events as her path crosses with some of the key historic characters."

Founder of the WSPU Emmeline Pankhurst, played at the suggest of Carey by Meryl Streep, appears all too briefly on a balcony to rouse her troops into more drastic action. Her appearance feels like a token gesture and, like Maude, we are left wanting to know more about the illusive leader.

Instead Suffragette seeks to condense the personal cost of the Suffragettes fight into one women's story and show what drove seemingly meek wives and mothers to crime.

"The whole film challenges the audience to consider how far they would go to defend their rights, " explains Abi.

Maude's story, and Carey's wonderfully moving performance, capture the turmoil Maud is put through when husband Sonny (Ben Whishaw) refuses to support her and is willing to punish her in the most heartbreaking way possible using their young son George. In snatched loving moments you can sense Maud's hope that he will grow up to be a man who sees women as equals.

Theirs is almost the only positive male/female relationship in the film which portrayed almost all the male characters as boorish, spineless or downright loathsome- a simplification of the truth.

It is the suffering of the women, who we see force-fed in prison and shunned by their peers, that the film brings to the fore as the creative team felt this was something people today are mostly unaware of.

Carey, who kept The Hard Way Up by Suffragette Hannah Mitchell by her side on set admits: "I had heard the sanitised school version, images of women in hats with sashes marching round singing - quite jolly and drinking tea. I didn’t have any idea of the reality of what the women went through.”

For me watching male police officers beat back women as they fall to the ground bleeding, while other men stand by and watch, was the most upsetting scene.

But the women will not be stopped and, led by pharmacist Edith, turn to more radical means to try and gain the media and the world's attention. This character, also a composite of several real Suffragettes, is played by Helena Bonham Carter who's great-grandfather was Henry Herbert Asquith, Prime Minister at the time of the events in the filming and in many ways the nemesis of the suffragette movement.

The tension builds towards the day of the Epsom Derby when Emily Wilding Davison, who until now has only appeared in fleeting moments of the film, steps into the fore and famously in front of the King's horse during a race.

Whether she meant to commit suicide – she died from her injuries four days later – or was simply carried away by the moment is not known, and that ambiguity is preserved by the filmmakers who show the scene from Maud's point of view.

“A space has been left for people to wonder and for people to call her crazy if they want, or for people to really admire her if they want," says the actress who plays her Natalie Press.

Perhaps because I went to an all-girls secondary school where Suffrage was very much on the curriculum, I already knew that this was the event that was the turning point in securing the vote for women in England, and indeed the film didn't tell me anything I didn't already know.

But it did move me and remind me that the fight isn't over, so in this the filmmakers have succeeded in their aim.

“I feel this film is really about embracing our inner feminism and our inner suffragette and pulling her to the forefront, " says Abi.

Carey adds: “Our film isn’t meant to be the story of a time that is no longer relevant to us - it’s not about a historic event; it’s about a general movement, and one that is on-going.”

But while Suffragette brings historical events vividly to life, in the end it only manages to portray as small piece of the struggle and it felt like a missed opportunity.

I only wish the filmmakers had found the guts to tackle head-on the story of the Pankhursts, and properly honour those who had the bravery to stand up for me and for all women, past, present and future.

Suffragette will have its UK premiere on October 7 at the Odeon Leicester Square for the opening gala of the BFI London Film Festival. Details: bfi.org.uk/lff

It will be in cinemas from October 12. Details: suffragettemovie.com

The House of Parliament is running Suffragette Season in October to celebrate the release of the film with special talks and tours. Details: 020 7219 4114, parliament.uk/suffragette-season