The reductive, knee-jerk criticism of Nigel Cole’s feminist rabble-rouser is that it’s just a British version of Norma Rae, tarted up in late-1960s period garb. But when was the last time a fact-based movie championed both working-class women and labor organizing? Anchored by a solid lead performance by Happy-Go-Lucky breakout star Sally Hawkins and stolen by a dependably brilliant supporting turn by Miranda Richardson Cole’s estrogen-fueled agitprop is both assured and persuasive: a blue-collar fairy tale that makes you feel good about fighting the noble cause. Set in the London suburb of Dagenham during 1968, the movie revolves around a labor strike orchestrated by factory worker Hawkins against the Ford Motor Company to make women’s pay equal to their male coworkers. Even though you know exactly where it’s headed 15 minutes in (William Ivory’s otherwise workmanlike script isn’t exactly full of surprises), the pleasures of this well-tooled populist docudrama are still considerable, particularly with acting of this caliber.
Director: Nigel Cole
Writer: Billy Ivory
Producer: Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley
Cast: Rosamund Pike, Miranda Richardson, Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Richard Schiff, Geraldine James, Rupert Graves, Robbie Kay, Joseph Mawle and Daniel Mays