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North Country

 

The Diva's review of
North Country (2005)

 
north country Rated R ; running time of 2 hours and 10 minutes
Genre: Drama
Written By: Michael Seitzman, based on Class Action: The Story of Lois Jensen and the Landmark Case that Changed Sexual Harassment Law by Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy
Directed by: Niki Caro
Cast: Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sean Bean, Woody Harrelson, Jeremy Renner, Richard Jenkins, Sissy Spacek, Thomas Curtis, Elle Peterson, Michelle Monaghan

 

 

WARNING- SPOILERS BELOW.

The Digest


In the North Country of Northern Minnesota life is tough. The weather is harsh, employment opportunities are few and far in between, the small towns are isolated, and the women are expected to have traditional roles in the home – even though this is 1989.

And these are the hurdles that Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron) faces. Josey with her two children, Sammy (Thomas Curtis) and Karen (Elle Peterson), one of whom she had at 16, find themselves in The North Country back at home with her folks after she has left her abusive husband. She is met with a father, Hank (Richard Jenkins) who has never forgiven her for getting pregnant as a teenager and seemingly not knowing who the father of her eldest child is. His disappointment is so deep that he goes as far as to suggest maybe she should go back to her husband even after seeing her battered face.

Her mother, Alice (Sissy Spacek), warmly welcomes her home with open arms. Josey is grateful, but she is antsy. She just can't deal with her father, but she only has the skills to work as a shampoo girl at the local beauty shop. A fine job, but she doesn't make enough money to move out and support her children. It is at this beauty shop that she runs into her friend, Glory (Frances McDormand) who makes between 13 or 16 dollars an hour working at the local iron mine and encourages Josey to apply. She warns Josey that it will be tough. There are only about 10 women there and the men can be a little rough. Josey knows she can handle it, how hard could it be? Besides with that kind of money she could take car of her children. So she applies and gets the job. Her first taste of freedom is to move in with Glory and her Husband, so she can be closer to work and even though they are living with Glory, they have freedom they didn't have before. With her first paycheck, she takes the kids out to dinner – she;s never been able to do that before and eventually, she has enough money to buy a modest home. She buys the house and is able to buy the kids nice toys. For the first time in Josey life, she is her own person. She now has a sense of pride and her self-esteem is at an all time high.

But this is all short lived. The better that things get in her personal life, the more they plummet in her professional life. Things at work are unbearable. Foul words are written in human feces on the locker room wall. She is fondled and groped. One of the women is tipped over in a porto-potty and covered in human waste. Almost all of the men are openly hostile to their female co-workers since the women are “taking their jobs away”. And even though Josey is encourage by the CEO to make use of his open door policy, when she does complain, she is almost forced out by said CEO. With a house note and children to feed, she needs the job and decides to just suck it up. She does this until she is slapped,chocked and almost raped. That is enough for her to hire Atty. Bill White (Woody Harrelson). Bill knows they'll never win, but if they can get the other women to back her, they can pursue a first class action lawsuit for sexual harassment.

But in such a small community are any of the other women willing to stand with Josey?

The Dish

As I stated in my interview with Charlize. So much so, I was moved to tears. This is an unbelievable story, yet most of it is true. Writer Michael Seitzman told me that if it happened in the courtroom or in the mines, that's what happened. Everything else he used dramatic license. But I'm okay with that. The important parts of this movie are what happened in the court and in the mines. A light needed to be shown on what happens with mob mentality and lack of respect.

There was not one bad performance in this movie. Not one. I really see some Oscar nominations on the horizon for Niki Caro, Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, and Richard Jenkins. I would not be upset if Sissy Spacek and Sean Bean saw some nomination love.

I triumphed with these women. I was struck by so many things while watching this movie. 1. I was a working adult in 1989 – this could have been me. 2. Had those woman been any minority other than women this might not have happened. 3. and my sadness at how this was allowed to continue. I don;t know if I could have been as strong as those ladies.

The Directive
This film is difficult to watch, but it must be seen. If you are comfortable with your teenagers seeing rated R movies, take them. Show your girls that they have rights and should be respected and show your boys that it is okay to not bow down to peer pressure.

Green light

 

Thank goodness the women weren't as cold and unforgiving as a North Country winter.

 


Copyright Kamal "The Diva" Larsuel-Ulbricht, 2005
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