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North Country (R)

Release Date: October 21st, 2005 by Warner Brothers Pictures.
The Cast: Charlize Theron, Elle Peterson, Thomas Curtis, Francis McDormand, Sean Bean, Woody Harrelson, Sissy Spacek, Michelle Monaghan.
Directed by Niki Caro.

BASIC PREMISE: Josey Aimes (Theron) struggles with sexual harassment and abuse while working as a coal miner. Based on a true story.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The plot begins during a trial when Josey explains what she had been through when she worked at the factory. The reason why she’s in court is a mystery that gradually unfolds through flashbacks. Just like in Monster, Charlize Theron sinks right into her role with another Oscar-worthy performance. She doesn’t immediately start the job in the first few scenes—the plot takes its time to introduce her mother (Spacek), father (Jenkins) and her two children, Karen (Peterson) and Sammy (Curtis). Glory (McDormand) convinces her to be a coal miner when she meets her at a bar. That’s also where she happens to meet her future lawyer (Harrelson) for the trial. The conflict begins even before she starts working: during her “regular procedure” examination, a gynecologist checks to make sure that she’s not pregnant. During the training process, the trainer makes sexual harassing remarks toward her. The other female workers, who are clearly a minority compared to the hundreds of males, go through the same harassments every day. For example, Sherry (Monaghan) gets knocked down and humiliated by male workers while in a port-o-potty. Occasionally, the film cuts back to the court trial where Josey gives more painful details from her troubled past. One of the details is surprising, but the rest of them are predictable. However, they are all essential in enriching Josey’s character development to make her more real. The cinematography captures the picturesque, snowy terrain. There are also well-shot scenes of the factory and town with the camera looming high above.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Josey’s courage and determination is very inspirational. The scenes when the prosecutor grills her about her private life are both moving and infuriating. Although the ending is satisfying, it could have been more powerful if the jury had actually read the verdict out loud. Nonetheless, Jensen vs. Eveleth Mines, the real trial that this film is based on, led to many more female workers who stand up for themselves against sexual harassment and implement a new law that strictly prohibits it.



THE BOTTOM LINE: Charlize Theron gives another Oscar-worthy performance! An inspiring film with beautiful cinematography!


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