At the Movies
By Cynthia Morse Zumbaugh HARBOR LIGHT CORRESPONDENT
Charlize Theron has obviously decided that one golden statue on her mantel isn't sufficient. She is going for the gusto with North County and what a job she does.
I came out of this movie wanting to wreak havoc on any man who had ever treated me with disregard or disrespect or maybe just men in general. It has that effect on you.
This is another "based on a true story" movie, meaning that most of it probably didn't happen quite this way. The fact that a female miner brought and won the first sexual harassment suit against a mining company is true; as for actual events, who knows? They are intriguing and if they didn't happen quite this way, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that they could have.
Josie Aimes (Theron) leaves her abusive husband, taking her two kids back to Minnesota to live with her parents (Sissy Spacek and Richard Jenkins). When she is unable to make a living wage at "traditional" female jobs, she goes to work in the mines, where the male/female ratio is about 30 to 1. At first she faces sexual remarks and come-on's, but eventually the "kidding" escalates to physical violence. When she has had enough, she hires an attorney (Woody Harrelson) and takes the company to court.
That is the crux of the story. The more interesting storyline is the underlying relationships between Josie and her parents, especially her father. He makes automatic assumptions such as if her husband beat her, it must have been her fault. And the relationship between Josie and Glory (Francis McDormand), one of the few other women in the mines, is more engrossing than the main storyline, thanks to stellar performances by McDormand and Jenkins and Spacek.
Theron is extremely good, but if she is considered for awards, her supporting cast should be there with her. Spacek, Jenkins, McDormand and Sean Bean are all excellent in their roles.
This isn't a particularly easy movie to watch. It is violent and it is very depressing in parts, but it is a worthwhile movie, for all of the Hollywood dramatization involved. It may be dressed up, but the story remains true and pathetic. This case occurred in 1989, not decades ago as you might suspect. And today, in 2005, an obnoxious misogynist with an over inflated sense of self (Bill Maher) still has the nerve to say about Ms Theron, "New Rule: In her next movie, Charlize Theron has to be sexy again. We get it. You're a serious actress." That isn't the entire quote, but this is a family paper and his suggestions for her next role wouldn't play here.
This movie is rated "R" for good reason; there is profanity, violence and sex and sexual innuendoes galore, but if the audience is mature enough to look beyond that, there is a great story being told.