Made in Dagenham

27 Nov

Title: Made in Dagenham
Year:
2010
Director:
Nigel Cole
Writer:
Billy Ivory
Starring:
Sally Hawkins, Miranda Richardson, Rosamund Pike, Jaime Winstone, Bob Hoskins, Richard Schiff, John Sessions, Kenneth Cranham, Daniel Mays
MPAA Rating:
R, language and brief sexuality
Runtime:
105 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
6.9
Rotten Tomatoes:
82%

 

I guess I always knew Made in Dagenham was going to be good, there was a nice amount of buzz surrounding the project early on which has subdued a bit by now, but still, the thing is, while I knew this was going to be good, which it really was, I wasn’t anticipating it be this fun and entertaining as well. And those two qualities add a lot to the film, and are attributed in their entirety to Sally Hawkins, who delivers a killer performance here. The buzz on the film was mostly surrounding Ms. Hawkins, who was poised as a contender early on, and was coming off her star-making performance in Happy-Go-Lucky a couple years ago, that amazing performance granted her the Golden Globe but the Academy failed to even nominate her, so a redemption vote for this one was thought to be in order. Now, after having seen Made in Dagenham I’m not entirely sure if she’ll get the nod, the performance is great and everything, but not like the one in Happy-Go-Lucky, and I can think already of some five other performances that in my opinion are more deserving of the nod by the Academy. But, nevertheless, this is still a darn good movie.

And it’s not just Ms. Hawkins who knocks it out of the park in this one, but rather every single actor involved, the film is just well-acted by every single player. This is, of course, a very feminist film, and it focusses on the real-life strike of the Ford sewing machinists in Dagenham, one that was absolutely vital in the Equal Pay Act in the beginning of the 70’s that ensured equal pay for both sexes. The film sees these women, who were really good workers, pissed off about making less than their male counterparts, and deciding to go on strike, against the desires of the general public, which included their own husbands.

Ms. Hawkins’ character is quite cool, and she makes her even cooler. She plays Rita O’Grady, who works under not-so-great conditions at the Ford plant in Dagenham sewing seat covers to cars. And the other characters are also very cool and, as I said, are played remarkably well by a slew of seriously talented actors. Bob Hoskins is amazing as Albert, the union organizer who actually sympathizes and respects the women workers, and knows deep down that they should be getting equal pay and helps their in their journey. Miranda Richardson also appears as the Labor minister who turns out to be one of the surprising supporters of Rita and her cause. And then there’s also Rosamund Pike, who delivers a fantastic performance as Rita’s unlikeliest supporter, a wealthy high-class woman married to one of the top executives at Ford.

And so we see Rita’s story unfolding. See how she, initially a rather quiet woman, eventually turns into the leader of this group of women who just wanted fairness in a world dominated by men. She’s confronted by her husband who doesn’t agree with her, she’s confronted by many more when the strike becomes the subject of media attention around the world, this would be, after all, the one that would change work conditions for women all over the globe, and it all started with a group of women working at a car manufacturer a small ways outside of Dagenham.

We all love these sort of stories when they’re real, when a huge historical breakthrough was started in the unlikeliest of places and led by the most unlikely of faces. These were women who were paid  unjustly and worked in a really hot sweatshop that got them all stripping to their underwear while the male workers did their jobs in much better conditions. And as I said, the magic of Made in Dagenham lies in the fact that it’s an honestly entertaining film, that’s thank to Ms. Hawkins who’s always so cheery and fun, and thanks to the director, Nigel Cole, who did this film a huge favor by not going into the darker territory that he could have so easily chosen to tread, but instead keeping this one light and fun, even the cinematography has a sort of fresh and light vibe that really works.

Maybe Ms. Hawkins will now be the go-to British actress for sweet and optimistic roles, and maybe she should be because she’s just really good at playing those roles. And the casting in this film is genius, not only is Ms. Hawkins perfect for the role of Rita, but Mr. Hoskins, Ms. Richardson and Ms. Pike all give wonderful performances. And if Ms. Hawkins ends up getting the Oscar nomination I will be very happy for her, not only will de Academy be atoning for their mistake two years ago, but it will also be rewarding a lovely performance, by a woman who makes Rita’s journey so damn good for us. However, as I said, my money for the five slots is different and goes: Bening, Portman, Lawrence, Kidman and Manville. But if there’s a Hawkins in there, I’ll be the first one clapping along.

Grade: B+

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