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
Josey Aimes is based on Lois Jenson, who started working in the mines in 1975 and endured thirteen years of harassment, before filing her first lawsuit. Jenson v. Eveleth Mines was settled in 1998, ten years after it was first filed, and over twenty years after the harassment began. See more »
When Josey drives through Minneapolis, a 2000 or later police squad car appears in the driver side window as she goes through an intersection. Squad cars
looked very different in the 1980s. 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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The Warner Bros. logo plays but with no music. See more »
I hate to give North Country a relatively low vote because this is such an important issue, and I appreciate the good intentions of director Niki Caro, and the A-list actors who no doubt took a big pay cut when agreeing to take a role.
On the other hand, I feel disappointed, a little angry, as well as insulted as a woman that this hugely important story was made into a melodrama that flattens out what really happened, and somehow manages to diminish the political nature of sexual harassment, even while seeming to highlight it.
At least 90 percent of the problem had to do with Michael Seitzman's script.
In the interview with Seitzman on the DVD, he makes clear that he didn't think the sexual harassment story was the real story. The real story, he said, was the traumatic experience Josie had in high school, and her relationship with her son.
Therefore he should have written a script for Lifetime focusing on what he felt was the "real story". He should not have used one of the most important cases for sexual harassment in legal history as the vehicle for telling this other story.
The producers should have demanded a script that more closely resembled Susannah Grant's Erin Brockovich. The sequence of victimization after victimization depicted in North Country didn't let us get to know Josie's character in any depth. We saw her slammed against the wall again and again, from beginning to end. We see that she stands up against the oppression, but we aren't taken into her sensibility, her choices, her process, her blind spots, character change, etc, etc, like in EB. Likewise, the lack of complexity in the male "macho" characters also flattens the story, and takes away from the real difficulties in challenging sexism and sexual harassment. In real life, character complexity of those who oppress or who defend oppressors is part of what makes the problem of sexual harassment difficult to fight.
I read an interview with Niki Caro, and though I think she's a very talented director, I got the sense that she didn't really get the politics or history behind sexual harassment. It seems things aren't as bad in New Zealand as they are here in the U.S. This is a foreign culture to her, and Northern Minnesota is certainly a foreign culture. I wish she would have spent more time fully understanding the issues and cultural dynamics (including the accent and mannerisms of the area, etc, which were sprinkled into the movie, but not rigorously replicated) before undertaking the project. If she had gone the extra mile to immerse herself in the issue and the region, perhaps she would have demanded a total rewrite of the script.
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