Rated R for language and brief sexuality, 113 minutes
Likable, charming true story of "Made in Dagenham"
If you think you aren't paid enough at what you do, you should see the new British film "Made in Dagenham," a charming look at how some British ladies stood up and made a difference. It's predictable and unrevealing as a whole, but these ladies are so darn likable that you will be rooting for them the whole way.
It's the summer of 1968, and Rita O' Grady (Sally Hawkins) and her pals are enjoying the swinging '60s in Dagenham, England. They all work as sewing machinists for the Ford plant, sewing the material onto the car seats. But they are notified by their supervisor (Bob Hoskins) that have been categorized as unskilled workers and worst of all, are paid considerably less than their male counterparts. Rita stands up to the local Ford management for equal pay for the women, something that garners the attention of the British government and agressive Labor Department minister Barbara Castle (Miranda Richardson), who pledges to help the ladies.
"Made in Dagenham" is a pleasantly inspiring but bland look at how a few lower-class British dames changed history and made things better for women workers. If you know anything about the story, you already know how it turns out, but it's fun getting there. There are a few unnecessary episodes that give a padded, choppy feel at times, but it's still fun getting to the end. Hawkins is affecting as O'Grady, Hoskins is a sympathetic company man, and British character actress Richardson delivers one of her stronger, more memorable turns as the opinated Castle, who not only helped the ladies but also provided legislation later than led to the groundbreaking Equal Pay Act.
Director Nigel Fox, who helmed another true British ladies effort "Calendar Girls" a few years ago, handles the material well, though it likely would've benefited from a stronger, female director who didn't underestimate the power of the material. Good thing he has a strong true story and cast on his side to make the film better than it really should be, and it's also quite nice to see the actual (and now much older) ladies talk about their experiences over the film's credits at the end.
"Made in Dagenham" is an agreeable, if somewhat forgettable look at some graceful, plucky ladies who made a difference. You may not remember all of the movie, but you certainly won't forget the difference they made.