Made in Dagenham is the kind of movie that makes most, if not all, women feel some degree of gratitude. Additionally, anyone who has ever had to, or wanted to, stand up for what they believe in will walk out of the theater inspired by this film, which is based on a true story.
In 1968, at the Ford Motor Company's factory in Dagenham, England, there were 187 women working as machinists, assembling and sewing seat covers. After a little convincing from the union shop steward, Albert (Bob Haskins), the women all agree it is time the company recognize them as skilled workers and pay them accordingly. When Ford does not comply, the women go on strike and appoint Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins) as their representative.
Hawkins, who may best be known for her starring role in the critically acclaimed British film Happy Go Lucky, puts on a wonderful performance as the mother-turned-activist in Made in Dagenham. Rita faces the challenges familiar to most modern mothers - balancing work and family - in a constant juggling act. Hawkins' performance is sincere and makes Rita the most realistic and relatable character in the film.
One of my favorite moments comes when Rita's husband, Eddie (Daniel Mays), gets on her case about the strike. He wants the strike to end so that all the men who were laid off can go back to the factory. Eddie tells Rita that he's been a good husband, doesn't sleep around and feels he needs to be commended for that. Rita tells Eddie that's the way it should be. Though Eddie seems to be fairly progressive, he still slips into the mindset that fuels sexism. Not only are Rita and the women fighting for equal pay and rights in the workplace, but also at home. Rita tells Eddie that these are rights and not privileges, driving home the film's overall message.
As a working woman in her twenties, there are few things I've had to fight for in my life and short career, thanks in part to passionate and courageous women like those in Dagenham. Though the film could have exemplified the conditions the women were under a bit more, the performances were great and the film was uplifting. A mix of dedicated sisterhood and a call for social justice blend smoothly in Made in Dagenham.
Made in Dagenham
Starring Sally Hawkins, Bob Haskins, Daniel Mays.
Directed by Nigel Cole.