Made in Dagenham
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that though this film is rated R, based on occasional vulgar language ("f--k" in numerous forms, "bollocks," "arse," "s--t'), and one short sexual encounter (shot from the shoulders up; participants are clothed), it is an educational and entertaining look back at a courageous period in the history of women's rights. Set in England, the working class dialect may be hard for an American audience to understand in some scenes, but it most likely will not impact the viewer's general grasp of the story. One secondary character has a violent dream and then commits suicide off camera. His feet are seen swaying above the floor as his wife screams upon discovering him. Assorted women of all shapes and sizes remove their shirts and work in their bras in an uncomfortably warm factory. Many characters smoke frequently and there is some drinking and drunkenness when the workers unwind in local bars.
What's the story?
Labeled "unskilled," with poor working conditions and low wages, a stalwart group of women machinists who make upholstery for cars built by the Ford Motor Company take on the corporate hierarchy in this true story about a tenacious fight for fair wages and respect. Rita O'Grady (wonderfully played by Sally Hawkins) is their initially unsophisticated leader, but as Rita's smarts and perseverance evolve, so do the other women and their cause. They face rigid, arrogant executives, changing family responsibilities, and increasing pressure from male co-workers and their community. With the support of the fair-minded manager of the factory (Bob Hoskins), England's Secretary of State (Miranda Richardson), and some other surprising allies, Rita's initial skirmish over "skilled worker status" becomes a legendary fight for "equal pay for equal work," a revolutionary concept in 1968 when the story takes place.
Is it any good?
A film about the triumph of the underdog is not original, but done well and with heart, it's always affecting; MADE IN DAGENHAM is one such film. It feels authentic, has wonderful performances, and avoids sentimentality. Sally Hawkins sparkles in her role as "everywoman." The filmmakers have gathered an impressive array of supporting players, paid important attention to the detail of the period, and worked from a script that feels fresh even though the story can't help but be predictable. (Why would they have made this movie if Rita O'Grady and her followers had failed in their endeavor?)
Sad that it has an R rating which might keep many young people from experiencing this entertaining and moving lesson in gender politics.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how times have changed or haven't changed with respect to women earning equal pay for equal work. Find out what statistics show nearly half a century later about male versus female earnings in the United States and Britain?
Three very different women were profiled in this film: a woman working in a factory, an educated stay-at-home mom, and a powerful politician. What did the film show that they all had in common? Were these women stereotypes, or did they challenge stereotypes instead?
The fim features a lot of drinking and smoking. Does it make a difference to you that the movie is set in a time when smoking was more common? What are the effects of watching smoking and drinking onscreen?