|'Richardson is a gem hiding way down the cast list, her Barbara Castle bristling with the competing notions of political dignity and social sympathy'|
Anchored by a delicious central performance from Sally Hawkins, Made In Dagenham is a worthy and occasionally emotional depiction of the strikes at Ford during 1968, strikes that would go on to start the ball rolling for equal pay for men and women in Britain and several other countries.
Hawkins has real presence and a tactile line in flitting between motivational speaker and meek wife, silenced by the men she comes into contact with on a daily basis. The scene early on with teacher Mr Clarke (Andrew Lincoln) is genius, tying together the narrative threads of Rita (Hawkins) and Lisa (Rosamund Pike) and demonstrating the suppression of women with something to say and a fair axe to grind.
Director Nigel Cole handles the obvious motifs fairly well but it's really little surprise that every opportunity is taken to demonstrate the differences between men and women and, in particular, their standing in society. Rita's husband Eddie (Daniel Mays) is the most confusingly handled of the selection of available identifiers; supportive one minute, misunderstanding the next, downright rude a moment late. Mays seems to be moving to cover all the bases of the stereotypical sixties 'man' where really, the more human characters of supportive Albert (Bob Hoskins) and conniving Monty (Kenneth Cranham) are much more interesting.
As the final acts start the emotive punches and wrought speeches increase and waver between compelling (Rita's speech at the union) and redundant (Miranda Richardson's speech at parliament). Richardson, despite being given the unenviable task of delivering the final bit of plot exposition, is a gem hiding way down the cast list, her Barbara Castle bristling with the competing notions of political dignity and social sympathy. If the amount of care that goes in to her character had been given to the rest of the support then this could have been something truly special.
'no one is glamourised. Set in a run-down area, the girls live with a low-income and average life, but are full of fighting spirit' - The Film Obsession