Harlan County War (2000) Holly Hunter, Stellan Skarsgård, Ted Levine, Wayne Robson Movie Review

Harlan County War (2000)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Holly Hunter in Harlan County War (2000)

The Coalminer's Wife

When Silas Kincaid (Ted Levine) is one of many men who have yet another brush with death whilst working for the Brookside mining company in Eastern Kentucky he along with the others reluctantly return to work as their families rely on the money they earn and they know if they don't toe the line they will be threatened with the sack. But when Warren Jakopovich (Stellan Skarsgård), a third generation miner and union representative, shows up in town he manages to unite the majority of the men to go out on strike until Brookside improve the working conditions. When a judge backs Brookside and says the picket is illegal it is up to people like Silas' wife Ruby (Holly Hunter) to not only back the men but keep the families going.

When you call a movie solid it isn't much of a compliment but to be honest most movies are solid but nothing special. As such when I say that "Harlan County War" is a solid movie it isn't an insult its just that despite its star power for a TV movie it isn't anything special. In fact "Harlan County War" is incredibly straight forwards as we see on one hand the tactics used by the mining company to try and force the men to return to work from physical threats to getting local businesses to cut off credit to make things even more difficult, striking at the heart of these families which already scrimp to make ends meet.

On the other hand we see how Ruby and the other wives end up taking up the cause when a corrupt judge makes it illegal for the men to fight with Ruby having to convince the other wives to do their bit. I won't go in to detail other than to say with Holly Hunter on fine form Ruby Kincaid is an entertaining and spirited woman who isn't intimidated easily. But because there have been quite a few movies featuring a spirited woman taking on he system this one doesn't stand out from the crowd even though it hints at emotional and personal conflict.

What this all boils down to is that "Harlan Country War" is both interesting and entertaining but it doesn't stand out from the crowd of similar movies even with Holly Hunter on fine form as Ruby Kincaid.