Sunday, 1 April 2012

Made in Dagenham (2010)

Made in Dagenham is a film that highlights one of those key moments in the development of society, and the people who make the rest of us sit up and question the "norm".  The story here is about a group of women machine operators working for the Ford Motor Car factory in Dagenham in 1968.  The work that the women do (construction of the car upholstery) is extremely skilled, but as far as Ford management are concerned it is unskilled, and this permits them to pay the women as such.  Encouraged by their Union representative Albert Passingham (Bob Hoskins), Rita and Connie (Sally Hawkins & Geraldine James) meet the management to discuss a better deal.  However, they soon realise the bigger picture that women all over Britain are paid on a hugely reduced pay scale when compared to their male counterparts; and all because they are women.  So begins a large scale campaign to bring this inequality to the attention of the nation and to change the company's view towards working women.

The film is funny, emotional, tragic, touching and perhaps most importantly, makes people aware that something we take for granted now, has only become a reality very recently.  Director  Nigel Cole manages to take a very serious issue and make a very enjoyable film.  It's not wall to wall Lols, but like the recent Marigold Hotel, it is the emotional investiture in the characters - and in this case how up-front the women are with the (naturally) all-male management - that makes the film good.  Sally Hawkins in particular is good as Rita, the working housewife who is also trying to change corporate law regarding women.  All the women are very strong characters, but Sally is in particular: like when she points out to her husband that the fact he doesn't come home drunk and beat her shouldn't be exceptional, it should be normal!  Bob Hoskins is also very good as the Trade Union rep who is 100% behind the women, and is so gleeful when Rita tells the management committee how it is and should be.

A very enjoyable film, with a great solid cast, lots of humour, and a very important eye-opening message.  Not a classic of British films by any means, but very good nonetheless.