Movie review – Equal pay sewn up

2011-01-21 12:24

Film: Made in Dagenham (UIP)
Director: Nigel Cole
Featuring: Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Daniel Mays, Rosamund Pike and ­Miranda Richardson
Rating: 7/10

Made In Dagenham is one of those films that the British do so well.

A character-driven story about a historical event – the 1968 Ford sewing machinist strike in Dagenham, England.

Sally Hawkins, who received an Oscar nomination for Happy-Go-Lucky two years ago, is Rita O’Grady, a working-class mother-of-two who is thrust into the ­national limelight in her pursuit of fair treatment.

She and her co-workers sew the seats together for every car that rolls off Ford’s assembly line, but their specialised job is considered unskilled. The main reason for this is that they are women.

With a lot of encouragement from their supervisor Albert (Bob Hoskins), the women kick up a fuss about getting less money for doing the same level and amount of work as their male counterparts.

Though the film depicts the larger legal war that successfully culminated in the Equal Pay Act of 1970 in the United Kingdom, it is the little battles the women face along the way that make this film so compelling.

Director Nigel Cole and his team have captured the late 1960s in England perfectly – the music, the fashion and the archaic attitudes to gender too.

Imagine a woman getting less money than a man for doing the same job because she’s a woman?

Unfortunately, most of us can, because while there may be legislation to prevent it, gender discrimination still exists, though it’s a little less blatant these days.

Made in Dagenham will appeal to those who like to have a cause to rally around.

As funny in parts as it is serious, the film is full of solid performances.

I couldn’t help thinking that I should know a lot more about these pioneering women who put their personal lives at stake to make sure they and those who came after them were treated fairly.

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