North Country



Excellent, moving, but for mature audiences only.
  • Review Date: February 20, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The harassments at the job and in town are terrible; including assaults and a history of rape, but Josey maintains her dignity and courage.


Rape scene shown in flashback, violent physical abuse of women by at two men.


Sexy dancing in a saloon, rape scene shown in flashback.


Harsh, ugly language used against Josey and the other women ( and variations on the f-word); also "damn," "hell," and slang for genitals.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Repeated drinking and some smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this mature drama begins with a woman leaving her husband after he has beaten her (beating is unseen, but her bloody, bruised face is visible). The movie includes tense family scenes, when the woman argues with her father (a miner who believes she should have stayed with her husband), and with her son (who eventually learns the identity of his father, a high school teacher who raped his mother when she was a student: this violent scene appears in flashback pieces, and might upset younger viewers). The film includes repeated scenes of harsh harassment of women workers at the mine: graffiti, rough language, semen left in a locker, a PortAJohn turned over with a woman inside, and one man assaults a woman, pressing her onto a pile of rocks and leaving her dirty and bruised. High school hockey games include some typical roughness. A woman develops Lou Gherig's disease and we see her deterioration.

Kids say

Not yet rated
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What's the story?

When Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron) finally leaves her abusive husband, her future looks bleak. With her two kids, she relocates to the last place she ever wanted to go, her parents' home in Northern Minnesota. She takes a job down at the mine, where her friend Glory (Frances McDormand) serves as a union rep, supported emotionally by her husband Kyle (Sean Bean). Josey soon faces ridicule and rebuke from her male coworkers, their wives, her employers, and even her dad. The other women miners have resigned themselves to the routine. Still, everyone but Glory blames Josey for the increase in abuse, which the film shows in grotesque detail. Childish, crude, and horrific, these tactics only gird Josey's resistance. She convinces Bill White (Woody Harrelson), a onetime local hockey star and New York lawyer, to help her bring a class action lawsuit against the company.

Is it any good?


Boldly melodramatic and occasionally overwrought, NORTH COUNTRY means well, it doesn't trust viewers to keep up (and honestly, it's not moving that fast). Laying on cruelties, climactic plot turns, and tragic figures (Josey sheds earnest tears in the courtroom for gallant supporters as much as for brief, tension-building failures), the film overstates its case -- especially in the courtroom scenes – when less is more effective.

As the film more or less locks you into Josey's perspective, it appears that even the bleak environment (effected by Chris Menges' splendid grey imagery) signifies her perpetual exhaustion. And the sheer weight of her burden is emphasized by director Niki (Whale Rider) Caro's soap operatic inflections: extended takes of pained faces, scenes showcasing family tensions, and plaintive Bob Dylan sound track music all make plain Josey's heavy burden.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the courage it takes for Josey to stand up to her employers and her coworkers, including men and women who just want to keep their jobs. She also faces condemnation from her miner father: how does their reconciliation begin when he sees her harassed by other men? How does Josey's relationship with her own kids change as she persists in her struggle for equal treatment on the job and in town?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 21, 2005
DVD release date:February 21, 2006
Cast:Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson
Director:Niki Caro
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sequences involving sexual harassment including violence and dialogue, and for language

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bymicapu April 9, 2008

didn't disappoint

I really liked this movie. The courtroom scenes were a little cheesy but overall the dialogue and message were intellingent and entertaining. Violence against women is all too common in media (and in life) and this movie makes it clear that it's NOT ok. That women shouldn't be victimized twice by the actions of some and the inaction and/or apathy of others. The only thing that really bothered me was that the main character's *statutory* rape by a teacher was treated as a plot point to advance the storyline, instead of as a tragedy all by itself. We watched this movie w/ our 14 year old because we thought the overall message was important. It really bugs me that a movie like this gets a "R" rating when other movies that treat sex casually and disrespectfully get "PG" or "PG-13" ratings.
Adult Written byliefde1 April 9, 2008
Adult Written byLowe's man August 12, 2014

essential viewing for older teens

While it's been a long time since I saw this movie (and as such only remember bits and pieces of it), it shows what women who took jobs that have traditionally been held by men had to go through at the time, why even those who privately sided with abused women were sometimes afraid to publicly say it, and the difference that just 1 person or a couple people can make. While the movie does go too slow at times and, as a result, is less effective than it could be, viewers can't help but empathize with the women. While sexual harrassment laws and anti-harrassment policies at work sometimes go too far, it's good that we have them, as we do need them. This movie helps explain why. Those who are mature enough to watch this movie should.


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