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UKScreen Rating:

North Country – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

When Josey (Theron) runs away from her violent husband, she needs to get a decent job to support her kids.
Moving back home to her parents’ place, she bumps into an old friend, Glory (McDormand), who suggests she gets a well-paid job at the local mine.
Back in the early 1980s, it just wasn’t the done thing for a woman to work down the mine – and Josey’s father Hank (Jenkins), a mine veteran, is dead set against the idea.
But she needs the money – and takes the job – and before long, the men of the mine are making her life hell.
Determined not to let them get away with it, with the help of a new friend (Harrelson), who just happens to be a lawyer, she decides to sue the company, but with even more men turning against her – and many women retreating into the shadows – the task ahead of her looks impossible.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

This is a bit like Erin Brokovich down a mine, and I’m sure Charlize Theron had a second Oscar in her mind when the screenplay first crossed her desk. With a nomination, she’s half way there, but it’s unlikely she’ll collect a trophy this time.
It’s a good enough performance, but far from spectacular, and more importantly, for a film about the first major sexual harrassment case in US industrial history, the material is surprisingly uninspiring.
Too many of the supporting characters are carictures – the old-fashioned father, the doting mother, the violent husband, the uneducated ex boyfriend, the kindly lawyer, the best friend union leader with a debilitating disease, her kindly husband – and they’re not given anything much to do. The plot just nudges along, bit by bit, without any great emotional peaks and troughs.
And when it finally comes to a head, it’s as cinematically convenient as it is realistically preposterous.
It’s a worthy attempt to tackle a worthy issue – but given that the world has changed a lot in the past twenty years, you don’t really feel the burning desire to get out of the cinema and change anything.

Opens 3 Feb 2006

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