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
According to the book "Class Action", the rape that produced Lois Jenson's son occurred after high school. In real-life, Jenson put her daughter up for adoption as a toddler because she was overwhelmed trying to raise two children on her own, in low paying jobs. Her father supported her decision to work in the mine, because he thought it would help her provide for her son. See more »
When Josey fills her truck with gas near the start of the film, the sign behind her shows a price of $1.71 per gallon. In winter 1989, US gas prices were $.90-$1 per gallon. According to the US Department of Energy, Minnesota gas prices did not reach that level until April 2001, and not again until April 2004. 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 »
'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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