Film Review: Made In Dagenham

A TYPICALLY Briitish film, Made in Dagenham (the much saucier working title was We Want Sex) is a dramatization of the history-making 1968 strike at the Ford plant in Dagenham, where female workers walked out in protest against female discrimination, leading to equal pay for women.

2010 – 113mn - 15

Directed by Nigel Cole. Starring Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Jaime Winstone, Andrea Riseborough, Rosamund Pike, Daniel Mays

Review by Walter Nichols

A TYPICALLY Briitish film, Made in Dagenham (the much saucier working title was We Want Sex) is a dramatization of the history-making 1968 strike at the Ford plant in Dagenham, where female workers walked out in protest against female discrimination, leading to equal pay for women.

The subject matter might sound like it would make for a hard-hitting, award-chasing feminist tract of a movie, but the film is nothing like that. Directed solidly by Nigel Cole, who directed Saving Grace and Calendar Girls (both superior films, but very much in the same vein), Made in Dagenham is a predictable little feelgood film, rescued from inconsequence by a stellar cast. It’s all too rare but always delightful when a film serves up great roles for so many great women. Everyone – from Geraldine James and Miranda Richardson to rising star Andrea Riseborough – is on top form, and there isn’t a female part that isn’t nailed flawlessly. Rosamund Pike (former Bond girl and whose beautiful performance in An Education is, in my opinion, as vital as Carey Mulligan’s to the film working so well) is brilliant as an executive’s wife secretly on the strikers’ side, and Sally Hawkins confirms, after Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky, that she can more than comfortably carry a film on her shoulders. She’s real, warm, and passionate – vulnerable but full of determination – and her turn anchors the film.

The men are great too, Bob Hoskins and Daniel Mays especially, and the costumes and period feel showcase yet again how truly great Britain’s behind-the-scenes craftsmen – the costume, set and production designers – are.

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The script, unfortunately, is very weak, and in fact plays mostly like barely passable weeknight television. It’s not very subtle, too often trips into saccharine, and doesn’t elevate the subject matter – indeed all it does is tell the most obvious, commercial, unoriginal version of it possible. This means the film never really soars.

It’s not art, but Made in Dagenham is very fine craft – and worth seeing if only as an enjoyable reminder of how much sheer talent and skill we have in our film industry.

Star rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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