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
In real life there were multiple trials, not just the one depicted in the movie. In the first trial, Jenson and two other women petitioned to have the lawsuit designated a class action, on behalf of all women working in the mines. The judge certified a class action including only the hourly female mine workers, not the salaried female officer workers who were also sexually harassed. The second trial established that sexual harassment occurred and that the company was liable for it. The third trial was to determine the amount of monetary damages each woman suffered. The fourth trial, in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, reversed the award of damages. The company settled just before the fifth trial started, paying each plaintiff an average of $233,000. By the time Jenson received compensation from the company in 1999, her children were grown and she was too disabled to work. See more »
The indoor hockey scene was shot at the arena in Eveleth, MN, where the average temperature doesn't get far above 10 degrees Fahrenheit during hockey season. No one's breath is visible in the outdoor scenes, and the little girl holding onto the chain-link fence wouldn't do that without gloves. 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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'What are you supposed to do when the ones with all the power are hurting those with none?'
I thought this would be one of those issue-based legal drama movies about sexual harassment where the main character is harassed a couple of times and then she eventually fights back. I was apprehensive about buying it. I mean I wanted to see it but whether it was worth buying was another thing. After checking, I decided to gamble. I bought the DVD and watched it and discovered that 'North Country' is about much more than sexual harassment. As the film progresses towards the end, we are addressed more important themes such as the consequence of rape on the relationship between a mother and child and how her silence is used as a weapon against her. However, while these issues are interestingly dealt with and fit the story they slightly deviate from the main theme of sexual harassment.
Niki Caro does a fine job in directing. Her intentions are sincere. Perhaps the script could have been a little tighter and the courtroom sequences could have been better handled as they are a little too dramatic and unrealistic, especially the judge letting White to argue his case that way. In addition to that, the case became more about Josey's sex life rather than the actual harassment and terrorizing in the workplace. Even though this provides a twist in the story and explains a lot of Josie's situation, it takes away from the main theme. Also most of the male characters have been caricatured. I understand the film is about Josey which may be the reason why these characters weren't given much attention but even Josey's father is portrayed as a misogynist and all of a sudden he is shown to have a change of heart. It would have liked to see this characters inner conflict as he plays a crucial role in Josey's life.
In the technical front, the cinematography is smooth and gives us some spectacular glimpse of the snowy landscape and the coal mines. The sound effect and country-feel soundtrack are quite good too.
Charlize Theron deserves all the recognition she got for giving a strong, confidant and heartfelt performance as the brave hard-working and headstrong Josey Aimes. She breathes fire into her role and, along with Frances McDormand, she's the heart of the film. McDormand performs naturally and her tragic character provides some great comic relief. She has some witty one-liners that bring a smile. While most of the guys are portrayed as nasty sleazy men, Sean Bean's Kyle is the complete opposite. Nonetheless, the actor does a fine job (quite a deviation from what the type of roles he's more famous for). Harrelson's Bill White suffers from poor characterization. His character is a bit too sketchy. Harrelson tries the best with what he's got and turns in a decent enough performance. Richard Jenkins too suffers from poor writing. Sissy Spacek has a tiny role but she has a subtle dignified presence and her character contributes to one of the major turning points of the story. Rusty Schwimmer and Michelle Monaghan are adequate.
'North Country' isn't an easy film to watch because of the explicit scenes of sexual harassment and the haunting rape scene but it is a relevant film. Not only is it about women's rights, it's about everyone's right to live a life with dignity, to work with dignity. It's about standing up against injustice rather than turning a blind eye. It's about protecting your loved ones and fighting for what you believed in. Though 'North Country' isn't without its share of flaws (it is a little preachy and sometimes too dramatic), it brings forth some important themes well enough and with the support of good direction and strong performances, it's worth watching.
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