Directed by: NIKI CARO
Starring: CHARLIZE THERON, FRANCES
MCDORMAND, WOODY HARRELSON, SEAN BEAN, SISSY SPACEK
Released by: Warner Bros.
Short: A worthy tale of women fighting for
respect in the workplace is marred by cornball
moments that stretch our credulity to the limit.
Charlize Gets Dirty for
By Jenny Peters
a family drama with a sort-of fact-based story about female
iron miners fighting against sexual harassment in the
workplace, "North Country" is a film with its
heart in the right place. The movie illuminates the experiences
of a group of women who insisted on being allowed to work
the same jobs as men in a Minnesota mine, a fight that
eventually ended up in a landmark court case that set
the standard for male behavior towards females in the
workplace. Casting Best Actress Oscar winner Charlize
Theron in the leading role (Josey Aimes) was a good idea,
as was having fellow winners Sissy Spacek and Frances
McDormand join in respectively as Josey’s mother
and best friend/co-worker (Gloria).
making great casting decisions, director Niki Caro, best
known for her unforgettable film "Whale Rider,"
also offers a stark, unforgettable vision of Minnesota's
wintry North Country. She deftly juxtaposes the gray landscape
against the bullying behavior of the men in the mine,
whose hatred for the women joining their ranks is downright
brutal. It's no wonder that the women had to resort to
the courts system to stop the men from making their lives
a living hell.
As Josey Aimes, a battered woman who escapes her abusive
spouse and brings her children back home to Northern Minnesota,
Charlize Theron once again eschews glamor for an earthy
role. Clad in hardhat, overalls, and usually covered in
dirt and sludge from the mine, she's anything but pretty.
Her performance as a mother struggling to raise her children,
regain her father's respect while working in the same
mine where he toils, and establish a healthy love relationship
The problem with the movie is that the
plot isn't believable. The cornball (not to mention blatantly
manipulative) moments that pepper the last third of the
movie jar the viewer out of the story. In typical Hollywood
style, all of Josey's problems are amazingly solved as
she triumphs over the bad guys. It's an unnecessarily
neat tie-up, especially considering that the real women
involved in the case (Theron's character is completely
fictional) probably had compelling stories to tell, without
all the Hollywood hokum.
if excellent acting and compelling visuals are enough
to make a movie worth the price of admission, "North
Country" is worth seeing. But if you are looking
for a total film experience, this one is bound to be disappointing
in the end.