A fictionalized account of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States -- Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines, where a woman who endured a range of abuse while working as a miner filed and won the landmark 1984 lawsuit.
1989. Josey Aimes takes her two kids, Sammy and Karen, and leaves her abusive husband Wayne, to return to her northern Minnesota home town. On a chance meeting with her old friend Glory Dodge who works as a driver and union rep at the mine operated by Pearson Taconite and Steel, Josey decides to work at the mine as well, work that is dominated by men in number and in tone. She does so to be able to stand on her own two feet for the first time in her life, something she probably could not have done if she remained in a job washing hair at a beauty salon. Working at the mine does not sit well with her father, Hank Aimes, who also works at the mine and who, like the other male workers, believes she is taking a job away from a man. Hank has believed that all Josey's problems are of her own doing, ever since she, unmarried, had Sammy while she was still in high school. Josey has always stated that she does not know who Sammy's biological father is, which fosters Hank's attitude about her. ... Written by
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The Minneapolis skyline includes a few buildings that didn't exist in 1988-89. See more »
Lady, you sit in your nice house, clean floors, your bottled water, your flowers on Valentine's Day, and you think you're tough? Wear my shoes. Tell me tough. Work a day in the pit, tell me tough.
I'm sure we're all sufficiently impressed, Mrs. Aimes.
There's no "Mrs." here.
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When divorced,single mom Josey Aimes(Charlize Theron,who's definitely NOT afraid to get dirty or uglified for a role)begins work in the rural Minnesota Taconite mines--where her father(Richard Jenkins)has worked a long,secure job--even she isn't prepared for the kind of mental,verbal and physical abuse she and her fellow women receive from the fellow miners who(surprise!)don't cotton well to ladies working in the pits with them. She soldiers on for a number of years before she finally has had enough and decides--after being already ignored by management when she complains--to quit and bring a class action suit against the company,fully aware that she is almost alone in this pursuit,save the somewhat reluctant help of a local lawyer and former hometown sports hero(Woody Harrelson).
I wavered on what rating to give this show for these reasons: the acting and visual direction of this film IS,I must confess,quite good. Credit practically the entire cast for the former,and director Niki Caro and cinematography of Chris Menges for the latter,but the overall tone of this movie is 1)very familiar stuff tot the point of reeking of "TV Movie" material, 2)manipulative by a mile, 3)hits on each emotional note--from the sort of "Girl POwer" quiet assertions of the film's script to the overt nastiness displayed by nearly all of the males working the mines--almost in a perfect cue; 4)the fictionalizing the stories,then mixing the time-lines from the actual case the movie and the book it was based on (namely,Jenson v. Eleveth Mines,filed in 1984,settled in 1998;whereas the film is set in 1989 and almost instantly flips to Septemeber 1991,circa the Anita Hill/Clarence THomas hearings,with the events-to-case trial time relationship murky at best);and 5)the sort of "feel good" third act denouement where the town,once boorishly stubborn against the idea of women working in the mines to being stirred by Ms.Aimes' case. An extra storyline of Aimes being raped in school and thus affecting,at least partly,her condition as being a troubled single mom who has a murky knowledge(or lack thereof)of the paternity of her equally troubled son is probably the most emotionally authentic storyline in this movie,but it feels mixed in for purely embellishment sake in this story,thus calling into question just how much this movie truly represented the true events being retold.
A famous saying says what good intentions pave the way to,but I think in this case good intentions pave the construction of a film that is underwhelming and somewhat disappointing. The story of the Eleveth mine workers and the discrimination case they eventually won absolutely deserve3s being retold,but this movie seems to be only interested in invoking it,then crafting an artificial story to frame it,as if for fear that audiences WOULDN'T get this story in the raw. On it's own,this movie's story works enough to interest most viewers,myself included, and the sincerity behind it is true I'm sure. But this film's over-familiarity and manipulation dilute the potency of the message. More entertainment than enlightenment,it's intentions are good but tough to take to heart. WAtch it for the performances,and one should feel better about it,at least marginally.
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