Monday, August 1, 2011

North Country (2005)

Hard Times Up North

- North Country (2005) is a really good film that addresses the tragic issue of violence, harassment, and the general disregard for in thought and action against women. Based on the true story of the first class action suit in the history of the United States, North Country tells the tale of one woman who took the initiative in hard times by uprooting her family to work at Eveleth Mines in Northern Minnesota, eventually having to stand up for herself and her fellow female co-workers against a corporation and society of the 1980s.

All the members of the film's cast are excellent in their respective roles. Charlize Theron stars as Josey Aimes and gives one of her best and most emotional performances, earning an Academy Award nomination. As good as Theron is in the film, I was most impressed with her supporting actor co-star: Frances McDormand gives the finest performance in the film as Glory (also earning an Academy Award nomination), bringing smiles amidst the human injustices, dishing out the uplifting one-liners and giving as good as she gets. Despite being a beacon of light in the mining pits, McDormand is also completely lost in the physical torment of her character that brings so much power to the film.

North Country also features a strong performance from Sean Bean in a supporting role. He really does more with the role than most actors would, consuming every scene with a powerful softness, unwavering devotion, and noticeable cool - he does an American accent real well too. Those three actors are the big hitters in the film, but North Country is actually filled with great performances from every member of the cast and Woody Harrelson, Richard Jenkins, Sissy Spacek, Rusty Schwimmer, and Michelle Monaghan light up the screen as well.

One criticism I have heard over and over about North Country is how it supposedly simply says that "men are evil." I could not disagree more because, yes, there are evil men depicted in North Country but one easily recognizes the good and virtuous men from the evil men. North Country could have been a very preachy, insufferable movie but I found it to be a thoughtful, balanced, and authentic story about the struggle that some women face at the workplace. While suffering a bit from a couple of over-dramatized scenes (including one especially unrealistic courtroom scenario), North Country is a highly recommendable drama overall.

CBC Rating: 7/10

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