It’s implied that if you’re male and dislike Paramount/Maple Pictures’ Made in Dagenham – inspired by the real-life strike by women machinists at a British Ford plant – you’re a chauvinist pig who secretly eats kittens.
Well oink, oink, oink and pass the BBQ sauce: Made in Dagenham is so wrapped up in its earnestness and smug rectitude that it doesn’t bother trying to be a good film.
Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson & Rosamund Pike Star in Made in Dagenham
The year is 1968 and the women workers at the Ford assembly plant in Dagenham, England are mad as hell. They’ve been downgraded to unskilled labour simply because they’re women, and their complaints get no respect from either the pompous plant manager (Rupert Graves) or the two-faced union boss (Kenneth Cranham). Encouraged by a sympathetic shop steward (Bob Hoskins), Rita O’Grady (Sally Hawkins) discovers that she’s an effective spokesperson for the 187 women toiling for Ford who go on strike for equal wages and benefits.
There’s no question that Made in Dagenham chronicles an important episode in the struggle for women’s rights, but that doesn’t make it a good movie. The film follows an all-too-familiar track as the women take on the big, bad auto industry with the men in their lives responding with patronizing indifference or outright hostility.
The characters are painfully underwritten: the wallflower who turns into a strident activist, the ruthless American executive (Richard Schiff), the trophy wife who is fed up with being treated as an idiot by her husband (Rosamund Pike), the hot-pants blonde who’s tempted by managment’s dirty-tricks department, and the selfish doofus of a husband (Daniel Mays) who doesn’t understand why his wife is ignoring her familial duties, but finally gets it after the big inspirational speech. It’s only Geraldine James and Roger Lloyd-Pack, as a union activist and her emotionally troubled husband, who manage to rise above their material, and find some nuance in their characters.
Even the dry comedy, usually a welcome staple of British film, gets short shrift here: the inevitable giggles over a certain banner are mistimed and feel stale. It’s as if director Nigel Cole and scripter Billy Ivory were so convinced of the film’s moral rectitude that they didn’t bother to make the extra effort. Watch the full movie for free at 123 Movie.
Paramount/Sony Pictures Classics’ Made in Dagenham an Overly Earnest Snore
This film is like a dancer who has learned his moves from a book: sure, he puts his feet in the right spots but without any grace or expression. Made in Dagenham gets a 2/5.