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Archive for October 10th, 2010

Made in Dagenham

Based on the true story of the 1968 protest against sexual discrimination at Fords Dagenham assembly plant, the film starts with sewing machinists voting to strike when they are downgraded to “unskilled” workers resulting in a drop in pay. As the trade union and the Ford management get involved the women find an unlikely heroine in machinist Rita O’Grady (Sally Hawkins) and the aim of the protest steps up as the woman look for equal pay. At risk of a plot spoiler the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970!

“A perfect storm” is a term used to describe the rare event where an unlikely and exceptional set of circumstances combine to create or aggravate a situation drastically. Both this movie and the circumstances it depicts could be described as a perfect storm. A simple strike (the UK car industry was often crippled by industrial action in the 60’s and 70’s) literally changed the world as similar legislation followed in other countries. As for the movie: Nigel Cole’s direction is light, easy and amusing making the near two hours fly by. The script is also full of humour, but is also sharp and cutting. The cast is nothing short of fantastic; Sally Hawkins (Oscar nomination please), Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Geraldine James, Rosamund Pike and Daniel Mays are all perfectly cast and give truly excellent performances. The secret of the brilliance, especially Sally Hawkins is that she makes her character likeable and more importantly believable.

With a strike forming the centre of the movie it would be easy to assume that it has a socialist or even communist undertone. In fact the people who are shown in the least favourable light are the trade unions, this isn’t a movie about politics, it is a movie about right and wrong and standing up for what’s right. Don’t be but off by the reviews accusing the movie of being slight or simple, if you want something more hard hitting go find a documentary on the subject. To make a light and entertaining movie that still manages to tell the story and convey the emotion of a true life moment in history is a tough thing to do and hasn’t been done this well since last years Frost/Nixon. Stay to watch the end credits that include interviews with the real-life campaigners telling their story.

More powerful than first impressions suggest, a film that will inform, entertain and most of all improve your mood.

Four Starts Out of Five

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