An influential moment in modern history makes for entertaining awards bait in Made in Dagenham.
Coming off the heels of An Education comes another period piece dealing with social change in the 1960s, territory which the Brits have got down cold. The costumes look great, sets impeccable, and a roster of fine actors devour their roles.
Made in Dagenham revolves around an important piece of industrial action which saw working women earn their right to equal pay, but it’s not so much a political film as it is a movie about friendship and principals.
Casting is it strength, with Sally Hawkins leading the charge as Rita O’Grady, the Norma Rae of the UK who leads a group of 187 women employees from Dagenham in industrial action against Ford Britain for the right to equal pay.
Hawkins plays the part with the kind of ballsy, nervous energy needed to make it work, nailing those award reel moments (thrown at her by director Nigel Clarke) with deft precision.
In fact the whole cast comes up roses, Clarke allowing plenty of room for his actors to deliver scribe Bill Ivory’s bountiful dialogue, while establishing a breezy tone throughout, mixing drama, comedy, and social commentary into an easily digestible 2 hr package.
Miranda Richardson is one to definitely watch during awards season. She plays notorious left wing politician Barbara Castle with a passionate fury worthy of the fiery redheads’ name.
That Made in Dagenham feels like awards bait shouldn’t come as a surprise, with its tale of lower class working women vs. the monster which is Ford (and sexism in general) as good as it gets for potential awards contender.
While it isn’t best picture worthy, this fluffy tale of the “movement that did” will ensure a fulfilling night at the flicks.