2/13/12: North Country


This fantastic motion picture garnered 2 Oscar Nominations in the 2005/78th Academy Awards: Charlize Theron for Best Actress in the role of Josey who lost to Reese Witherspoon as June Carter in Walk the Line; and Frances McDormand for Best Supporting Actress in her amazing role as Glory who amazingly lost to Rachel Weisz, taking nothing away from Rachel, as Tessa in The Constant Gardner. I own & love both films but McDormand is truly magnificent as a middle-aged coal miner dying of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The film is a partially fictionalized account of the first successful class action sexual harassment case, w/ Josey taking her horribly misogynistic employer, the Eveleth Mines in Minnesota’s North Country, to court for sexual harassment w/ her lawyer, the semi-famous former hockey pro, Bill White, played wonderfully by Woody Harrelson. the abuses these women endure are unspeakable: Josey must “submit” to an internal exam by the company’s doctor, who then tells the male staff all about it; the youthful Sherry, played by Michelle Monaghan, is subjected to being tipped over in a port-a-potty; grabbing; molestation; sex toys planted in their lockers; and on & on.

Complications ensue when Josey goes to work there, where her father is a longtime employee and he is embarrassed that she is working in a man’s profession. There are flashbacks to other abuses in her earlier life, but NOT by her loving, albeit misguided father, played by Richard Jenkins. Sissy Spacek is ever supportive as Josey’s mother. This film also marks the first bigtime role for Jeremy Renner, a co-working harasser of Josey’s and her brief high school sweetheart. The entire case is fantastic and lends credence to the tenet of All About Eve, that movies are made or broken by the actors. Director Niki Caro was overlooked for an Oscar Nomination unfortunately, but pulls this, really her only significant motion picture off flawlessly.

Bob Dylan, as the film title might imply to those of you very familiar w/ his work, is all over the soundtrack. Girl from the North Country, however, is performed not by Dylan but by Leo Kottke. Sadly, all of the examples of sexual harassment that the women of Eveleth endure are real, and that they had the courage to bring these issues to light is a testament to their will & conviction. This is a MUST SEE motion. The only issue that I have with it is that my copy of the DVD has digital flaws for perhaps the last 45 min’s of the movie, causing irritating continuity disturbances.

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