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.
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A semi-fictionalized account of a long legal battle of group of women miners who endured a hostile work environment and numerous and continuous insults and unwanted touching when they became the first women to go work at the Eveleth Mines in Minnesota. Written by
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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Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron) leaves her abusive husband and returns to her hometown in Northern Minnesota. After a prompt from her old friend Glory (Frances McDormand), Josey now a single mother with two children to support, seeks employment at the town iron mine plant. Predominantly employing men, Josey is expecting the work to be hard and gruelling, what she wasn't expecting tho is the mental and sexual harassment that the women and herself are expected to tolerate. Finally having enough, she starts to speak out about her treatment, but she finds that there are few allies both at work and at home. Her career, her life and her family are all sure to be affected as things reach breaking point.
North Country is inspired by the 2002 book Class Action: The Story of Lois Jenson, which details the landmark case of Jenson V Eveleth Taconite Company that changed the sexual harassment law.
There is always a danger in film land that serious, based on facts topics get too much of a Hollywood sheen. So shall it be with Niki Caro's (Whale Rider) interpretation of this most important part of American law. The impact is there, very much so, but in the need to keep the audience on board, one feels they are being force fed drama when really none was needed. Having a beauty like Charlize Theron playing your lead hardly helps cast off the glossy feel of the production. "Rightly" nominated for Best Actress (she has gusto in abundance), Theron is however miscast as regards the nature of the piece, her aura and star bank-ability his hard to ignore during the more dramatic moments. As the New York Times review noted on its release, "it's a star vehicle with heart," and it's impossible to argue with that astute summary.
Still there is much to enjoy here. In amongst the annoying contrivances put our way to further the emotional aspects, there beats a serious and dramatic heart. Coupled with a more than competently handled court case finale, and aided by McDormand's highly effective performance, North Country makes its valid point in spite of its obvious problems. Though the film didn't make back its budget of $30 million, it got people talking about the topic at its core. Putting the revolting issue of sexual harassment back in the public conscious can never be a bad thing, so with that, North Country achieved its aims. If it's as impacting as its cousins, Norma Rae, Silkwood and Erin Brockovich is debatable, but it is potent and it is acted with aplomb from its principals. It's just regrettable that one can't quite shake off knowing it's all a bit too glossy for its own good. 7/10
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