Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Opened locally Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 (now playing at the Maple Art Theatre in Bloomfield Hills)
Run Time: 1 hour 53 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Andrea Riseborough, Bob Hoskins
Directed by Nigel Cole (Calendar Girls)
"Made in Dagenham" is based on a true story about a group of spirited women who joined forces and took a stand for what is right. The setting is Dagenham, England 1968, where female workers fought against sexual discrimination in the workplace by walking out in protest. The strike was instrumental in the creation of the Equal Pay Act of 1970 which prohibited less favorable treatment between men and women when it comes to pay and conditions of employment.
Sally Hawkins is the catalyst as Rita O'Grady, a housemother and wife who works at the Ford plant. The women at the plant are primarily given traditional "women" jobs such as sewing and stitching car seats and interior. To the men, this is a mundane and totally unmanly job activity, but as we witness there is definitely much skill required in the work...not only in the work itself but in fixing certain problems created in design of the parts. So why are the women not payed as skilled employees? When Rita is coerced into attending a union meeting with the heads of Ford, she doesn't sit quietly and do what she's told...she voices her strong opinion to the head male honchos. Offended that they laugh her off, she begins persuading her union representative and others to begin the fight for what is right.
"Made in Dagenham" is the kind of movie that definitely is worth watching for the historical significance...I personally like stories that are important to us, that maybe this current generation of movie-goers aren't even aware of. So not to comment on the importance of the film's message of equality, but the movie itself suffers from a very traditional and formulaic approach when compared to other films of this genre.
Sally Hawkins is one of the best actresses that you probably don't know much about, and she gives a stellar performance here as the tough but still soft Rita. She really garnered attention for herself with the small and sassy 2008 film, "Happy-Go-Lucky", and I think she will continue to breakthrough to the mainstream. This move may feature one of the best ensemble casts of the year, with great yet small performances from many of the women at the plant, and the always interesting Bob Hoskins as a union rep close to the women of Dagenham.
But when the credits roll, it's the kind of movie that you'll think, "oh, that was nice", or "hmmm, I didn't know that!" By the time you hit the doors of the theatre you'll be thinking of something different altogether. For a movie all about making people take notice, it drifts along the proverbial assembly line as if it were one of the many parts being pushed through for production...Interesting if you take the time to study the individual piece, but it just gets lost in a sea of other films released this year that simply were just more captivating and entertaining.
So if womens' rights are your thing, or you're looking for a straight-forward feel-good film based on a true story, then Made in Dagenham might have been made for you.
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