Sunday, November 21, 2010

Movie with Abe: Made in Dagenham

Made in Dagenham
Directed by Nigel Cole
Released November 19, 2010

It turns out that the true story of a 1968 strike by the women of a Ford plant in Dagenham, England is quite inspirational, yet no one seems to know anything about it. Director Nigel Cole says that it’s a completely unknown story, even in London, and stars Sally Hawkins and Miranda Richardson weren’t familiar with it either. The idea of telling such a positive and uplifting tale appealed to Cole, whose previous films include the Helen Mirren comedy “Calendar Girls.” His latest work is a drama, yet Cole manages to brilliantly capture the humor of the women in question and turn the story into a marvelously entertaining and wonderful film.

The cast of actors and characters in “Made in Dagenham” is colorful and diverse, and on all accounts, very strong. Bubbly Sally Hawkins from “Happy-Go-Lucky” is a little more nervous and a little less jubilant as reluctant leader Rita, bringing a wonderfully sedated energy to the character and prompting Hawkins to appropriately note that “you always have to look out for the quiet ones.” Bob Hoskins is entirely endearing as the kindly and supportive Albert, who encourages the women to stand up for their rights. Miranda Richardson is fiery and often hilarious as Secretary of State Barbara Castle, who takes an interest in the widely-publicized case. The wondrous standout in a cast filled with likeable and admirable women is Rosamund Pike (“An Education”) as Lisa, a fellow mother and wife who proves to be a surprising ally for Rita.

The ensemble functions excellently together, and there’s a true sense of camaraderie and fun that isn’t often present in this kind of film. Part of the wonder is that the women aren’t aware of just what it is they’re doing, and their strike is initially meant as little more than an empty threat. Seeing their reactions as it spirals into something else entirely is delightful, and it makes the ladies of Dagenham easy to sympathize with and root for along their journey. This is one of those rousing and motivational films that should be viewed especially, according to Cole, by those “who aren’t engaged.” The film, he says, is a celebration of the women involved, many of who haven’t even told their children and grandchildren about this momentous event in which they took part. They started out simply trying to get what they thought they deserved, and it turned into something unexpected and revolutionary. After seeing this stimulating and enjoyable film, more people should certainly be able to appreciate a little-known but majestically important event.


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