Made In Dagenham (15)



Drama (2010)
113mins UK

Starring: Daniel Mays, Rupert Graves, Miranda Richardson, Geraldine James, Bob Hoskins, Richard Schiff, Sally Hawkins
Director: Nigel Cole
Writer(s): Billy Ivory
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Mother of two Rita O'Grady works in the Ford plant in Dagenham with good friend Connie, who is a union rep alongside Alfred Passingham. When the management led by Peter Hopkins shows preference to the male workers, Rita joins the negotiations. Her words fall on deaf ears and Rita risks her marriage to plant worker Eddie by persuading the female workforce to go on strike and take their grievances to Secretary of State for Employment, Barbara Castle.

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LondonNet Film Review
Made in Dagenham

The 1960s were a time of great change: America mourned the assassination of John F Kennedy, the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum and man took his first steps on the moon...

For the 187 women machinists employed at Ford's Dagenham assembly plant in 1968, it was a decade when a single act of rebellion changed history. Disgusted by their lowly standing in the eyes of management compared to the male workers, the women went on strike to protest against unequal pay and sexual discrimination. The subsequent power struggle with the board of the plant established a precedent for women around the world, proving that a few strong-willed individuals can slay a corporate giant. The creative team behind Calendar Girls draws inspiration from this true story to craft another hilarious and heartwarming tale of female empowerment. Blessed with a powerful lead performance from Sally Hawkins that should be a prime contender for end of year awards consideration, Made in Dagenham dismisses the notion that Essex girls serve only one purpose as the butt of cheap jokes. As the men in Nigel Cole's film learn to their cost, it is these strong-willed heroines who end up smiling.

Mother of two Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins) works in the Ford plant with good friend Connie (Geraldine James), who is a union rep alongside Alfred Passingham (Bob Hoskins). When the management, led by Peter Hopkins (Rupert Graves), shows preference to the male workers, Rita joins the negotiations and proves that she is no pushover, telling Hopkins, "Rights not privileges. It's that bloody easy, it really is." When her words fall on deaf ears, Rita risks her marriage to plant worker Eddie (Daniel Mays) by persuading the workforce to go on strike and taking their grievances to Secretary of State for Employment, Barbara Castle (Miranda Richardson). "If this woman gets what she wants, we'll have to do this around the world," rues American executive Robert Tooley (Richard Schiff), who travels to Dagenham to defuse the situation. Meanwhile, Rita finds support from Hopkins's wife Lisa (Rosamund Pike) and fellow machinists Brenda (Andrea Riseborough) and Andrea (Jaime Winstone).

Made In Dagenham evokes the period perfectly with a toe-tapping soundtrack and groovy fashions of the era. Hawkins delivers a bravura, emotionally wrought performance as a woman who risks everything for what she believes in, telling Ms Castle, "We ain't politicians. We're working women, and so are you!" Richardson chews scenery with gusto in her few scenes, with strong support from Pike, Mays and Hoskins as the allies and loved ones embroiled in the fight for fairness. Cole's film is laden with earthy humour and has a massive emotional kick in the final reel that begs favourable comparisons with the Oscar-winning Norma Rae starring Sally Field.

- Jo Planter


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