By: JENN GRIFFIN, Villager staff
The film "North Country" is a fictional account of the case Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines. It is the story of a woman, Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron - "The Italian Job"), who moves back to her parents' house with her two children, Karen (Elle Peterson) and Sammy (Thomas Curtis - "Sweet Home Alabama"), after her marriage has failed. Her parents, Hank (Richard Jenkins - "Shall We Dance") and Alice (Sissy Spacek - "A Home at the End of the World") are not so welcoming. Josey's friend, Glory (Frances McDormand - "Something's Gotta Give"), talks her into taking a job at the iron mine, where Josey's father also works, earning more of her parents disapproval. Josey and her children then move in with Glory and her husband, Kyle (Sean Bean - "Flightplan"). Though the mine pays well, so well that Josey eventually can afford to have a house of her own, the working conditions are unbearable. When she attempts to improve those conditions, Josey is met with resistance in every direction-from her employers, her coworkers, her friends and family members. But eventually, Josey persuades a lawyer, Bill White (Woody Harrelson - "Anger Management"), to represent her, to stand with her as she fights to better her workplace.
The film also stars Jeremy Renner ("S.W.A.T.") as Bobby Sharp, Rusty Schwimmer ("Amistad") as Big Betty, Michelle Monaghan ("Mr. and Mrs. Smith") as Sherry Jillian Armenante ("Moonlight Mile") as Peg and Linda Emond ("The City by the Sea") as Leslie.
"North Country" is directed by Niki Caro ("Whale Rider"). Michael Seitzman ("Here on Earth") adapted the screenplay from the book, "Class Action: The Landmark Case That Changed Sexual Harassment Law," written by Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy Gansler.
The casts' performances were as I expected they would be-unimpressive-with the exception of Bean's performance. For once, he portrays a likable character and does well enough in the role.
It's a predictable film. In most cases, it never reaches its potential. Yes, there are some scenes that will touch you in some way. Yes, there are some scenes that are truly great. But they are few and far between. Many of the scenes meant to grab you the most, the scenes that should shock and awe or tug on the heartstrings, will do little more than evoke a smidgeon of the terror the characters must feel or a small bit of sympathy for their circumstances. There's some really offensive content in the tale that should be really, really offensive to see. It should be hideously repulsive. It isn't. It should make you want to cringe, should have bile rising up in your throat and should make you livid. It doesn't. It's just sad-not the weepy sort of sad, but the "nice-try-do-better-next-time" sort. It's more of the same, scene after scene. It tries too hard and fails too often. The trailer does a better job of evoking emotion.
The thing I liked the best was how well the crew captured the time period. It looks and feels like the eighties. The coloring, the costuming, the set decorations and cinematography ...there, the film does more than succeed. It excels. There, it's worthy of recognition.
It's a great story. It could've been a great film.
"North Country" is rated R for sequences involving sexual harassment including violence and dialogue, and for language. Its running time is 126 minutes.
My advice: Make it a matinee.
Rating: Two pinecones out of four.
Jenn Griffin may be reached at email@example.com.
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