60s Sexism vs Girl Power
The year is 1968 and whilst the Dagenham Ford plant employs 55,000 men there were just 187 women. Feeling undervalued as they are paid less than their male co-workers the women lead by Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins - An Education) threaten industrial action unless they are paid equally. Whilst the company see the unity of the women as a nuisance the women lead by Rita refuse to back down despite pressure from her husband. As the situation escalates and the plant is forced to closed down not only do Ford send in an executive to try and break the union but Barbara Castle (Miranda Richardson - Fred Claus), the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity, becomes involved.
There is always an issue when it comes to movies like "Made in Dagenham", where something from the not too distant past is dramatized, that issue is point. What I mean by that is you already know how it is going to play out before it starts and unlike with biopics which tell the story of one person's life this general view of a past event is just that general. It almost reminds me of that old TV series "How We Use to Live" but done with a much bigger budget.
Now don't get me wrong as the story of the women of the Dagenham Ford plant making a stand for equality in pay is an important one and director Nigel Cole has done a fantastic job of recreating the era. There are nice little touches such as Rita's daughter telling her dad that their friend has a colour TV and a scene where a warehouse man says that the seats are for the new Escort. But again the issue comes from that all you are doing is watching a dramatization of events which you know will play out in a certain way before you even start watching. You even know that we will be presented by the sexism of the time as the men patronize and talk down to the women.
Despite this "Made in Dagenham" is a well made movie and is engaging thanks to Nigel Cole's pacing, the wonderful recreation of the era and the acting. Sally Hawkins is fantastic as Rita O'Grady and you believe that here is a woman who has the confidence to get what she wants and the courage to stand up for herself and her friends despite being in new territory. Add to that Bob Hoskins delivering one of his fatherly type performances and Miranda Richardson delivering a performance high on character and confidence and you are drawn in to all the characters.
What this all boils down to is that "Made in Dagenham" is a well made movie and an engaging one with a great look and good performances. But it is one of those movies which due to the nature of the story you end up watching not for what happens but for the look and the acting.