North Country (2005)

13 Jan

126m; U.S.

Director: Niki Caro

Cast: Charlize Theron, Jeremy Renner and Frances McDormand

Synopsis (IMDB): A fictionalized account of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States — Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines, where a woman who endured a range of abuse while working as a miner filed and won the landmark 1984 lawsuit.

(NYT) Set in and around the iron mines of Northern Minnesota between 1989 and 1991, Niki Caro’s muscular and absorbing drama addresses workplace sexual harassment at its most primitive and bludgeoning. A dowdy Charlize Theron is Josey Aimes, a poor single mother and newly hired miner. Hated by the men and unprotected by the union, Josey and her peers are relentlessly groped and sadistically bullied — behavior that reflects a community riddled with regressive misogyny.

Driven by righteous anger and inspired by a spearheading real-life lawsuit, the movie rises above its fight-the-power formula with a fabulous cast — including Sissy Spacek, Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson — and a potent sense of place. In Chris Menges’s gorgeously smoky shots of blasted earth and gnashing machinery, spraying explosions and blackened pits, we see an oppressively alien landscape that’s hostile to man and woman alike. JEANNETTE CATSOULIS





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