Newest Review: ... it one step further by asking for equal pay. The film is about the strike, the way that the girls handled it, the fireworks it set off wit... more
Made in Essex
Made In Dagenham (DVD)
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Made In Dagenham (DVD)
Advantages: Brilliant cast, real life story with humour
Disadvantages: Nothing major for me
The events of this film all happened before I was born, but I am glad they did happen. Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins) and her friends are machinists at the Ford Factory in Dagenham, Essex, which employed some 50,000 men and 187 women. The latter used to sew together the seats and trims.
The film hits the ground running as supervisor Albert (Bob Hoskins) comes to tell the ladies that the bosses do not accept their complaints that their re-grading as unskilled workers rather than semi-skilled was incorrect. A vote to stop overtime and to strike taken previously would take effect. With shop steward Connie (Geraldine James) somewhat distracted by her invalid husband George (Roger Lloyd-Pack), Rita steps up to help and realises that there is a bigger issue at stake. The women were not being taken seriously because of their gender, and they were never going to be paid fairly in relation to men. That was the way it had always been, was now the time to change this?
With a turn by Miranda Richardson as Secretary of State Barbara Castle, the film is packed full of British talent. Throw in Jaime Winstone, Kenneth Cranham, Rupert Graves, Rosamund Pike and Daniel Mays in supporting roles and you have a stellar cast who all convince in their parts, there were no weak links, and the film felt like a team effort, an ensemble piece rather than a star vehicle for Hoskins or Hawkins. Initially I was concerned that Hawkins looked too young to play working wife and mum Rita, but she had me convinced at the end. She pulled it off and played Rita as a gutsy woman fighting for what she believed in, in the face of adversity. Daniel Mays also pulled it out of the bag to play Rita's put-upon husband. I liked that most of the cast were London actors themselves and often spoke in their own accents. The story is not just a recreation of political events, there is humour in the details, the memories of the era and in the one liners and banter between machinists. As I wasn't born when these events occurred I cannot comment on how accurate they are but the events most certainly happened and as far as the political side is concerned I would think it is fairly spot on, obviously the personal lives of the characters would be fictionalised, but it is necessary to give the characters depth and for the audience to relate to them. In this respect I think the director (Nigel Cole) and writer (Billy Ivory) did a good job, as you do root for the girls. There are little details referred to in the film (such as Berni Inns and nasty white café tea cups) that are reminiscent of the period which I think is a nice touch as I remember some things from my childhood in the Seventies.
The film lasts just under the two hours, which is a fair length. To fit in the story and to develop the characters sufficiently, they really couldn't have made it any shorter. The film is made by BBC films and uses National Lottery funding thus the budget is obviously not high but I didn't think this affected the film at all. I recommend watching this for the story, the cast and the humour which all contribute to making this a quality British film. It may not be an international hit I suspect, as there are too many localised references that may not translate well to an overseas audience (but then so did Calender Girls, so what do I know?) but for its target audience it represents a good, real-life story which is both moving and funny and well worth a watch.
Summary: A feel-good portrayal of real life events.