SALLY HAWKINS BOB HOSKINS MIRANDA RICHARDSON ROSAMUND PIKE
Made in Dagenham
From the director Calendar Girls comes the true story of female English Ford Factory workers who set in motion the change for equal female wages. Rising star Sally Hawkins, who caught our attention in Mike Leigh’s Happy Go Lucky, takes a more formal role this time, playing a reasonable character. The performances take center stage here, and it’s the supporting role from Oscar nominee Richardson that steals the entire show. Made in Dagenham doesn’t have the fast and lively speed of The Kings Speech, but the story here is historic and worth telling; you just might need some caffeine to stay awake.
Set outside of London in the 1960's, the 187 women working in the Ford manufacturing plant have been labeled “unskilled” even though their sewing work on the interior of the cars is quite demanding and complicated. They have had enough and demand better wages, which no other female in the country is getting at the time. Rita O’ Grady (Hawkins) is one of the girls with something to say. She becomes the backbone of the group. She is just a normal low class mother trying to keep her children and husband fed. She, along with their manager Albert (Hoskins), go on strike, crippling the Ford production until they get the paychecks they deserve.
It’s always interesting to learn about other countries' defining moments and where women’s rights are concerned, this is a good history lesson. Director Nigel Cole brings to this film some of the same edgy behavior we saw in Calendar Girls, minus most of the laughs. I thought many of the actors were particularly well cast including Rosamund Pike (Pride & Prejudice, An Education), who has until now been typecast as a bimbo. Hawkins says the word “stupid” like no one else can deliver it. Her nearly awkward nature as a human being makes her always fascinating to watch. It’s Richardson as Secretary of State Barbara Castle, the fiery red head as she calls herself, who has the best lines and more memorable scenes.
Made in Dagenham requires patience on the viewer's behalf to get to the small anticlimactic scenes and I fear the pace of the film will detour most of the viewers. While Hawkins's name has been thrown around this awards season along with Richardson, the film does not have a wide enough appeal for everyone to watch. With The Kings Speech stealing the entire British buzz, this small reflective film is just that. It just needed something a little more aggressive to pick up the pace.
Final Thought – Perhaps a little too much on the BBC side and not enough on the cinematic side; the performances are good, though.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Michael Woody