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Made in Dagenham

Made in Dagenham

In Conversation

Director Nigel Cole Screenplay Billy Ivory Stars Sally Hawkins, Jamie Winston, Bob Hoskins, Daniel Mays, Rupert Graves, Rosamund Pike
DoP John de Borman
Opens October 1, 2010

movieScope’s editor Nikki Baughan and film critic James Mottram discuss Made in Dagenham, a film about the 1968 strike at Ford’s Dagenham plant which saw female workers strike for equal pay.

NIKKI BAUGHAN I was expecting a lot from this film, given the strength of the story and the cast, but I don’t think it completely captured the monumental achievements of these women. I found it a bit glib.
JAMES MOTTRAM When you compress real dialogue, it’s easy to make it seem glib. It’s an interesting piece of history, but that doesn’t necessarily make for interesting entertainment. The cast were great, though; Sally Hawkins is very talented and plays her role [of strike leader Rita O’Grady] well. Richard Schiff was also very good [as Ford’s American strikebreaker Robert Tooley] and it would have been interesting to know more about his character.
NIKKI The cast handled the material well, but I think the screenplay felt a bit like a Richard Curtis romp, rather than a serious dramatization. I felt that the filmmakers must have been concentrating too much on making an accessible British film for an international audience.
JAMES There have been recent films like Mr Nice, Soulboy and Cemetery Junction that have better depicted this era in British history. The use of archive footage was nicely done, but at times it felt a bit like Carry On At Your Convenience.
NIKKI It also ended in such a frustratingly upbeat way, with no mention of the fact that sexual inequality still exists today. It would have been nice to have an acknowledgement that the status quo is still not perfect.
JAMES Whatever you say about women not having equal pay now, it was worse then, but it doesn’t feel like a globalised issue. There have been so many changes in society over the last 40 years, and this was the next significant step since the suffragette movement, but it still feels remote. It’s a film about that particular time, and it has no more ambition than that. It would have been interesting to see someone like Ken Loach tackle the subject!
NIKKI It is a quintessentially British film and, if the story hadn’t been of such historical importance, I would have enjoyed it more. I just don’t think the treatment of the strike, and the women behind it, was handled with as much depth as it could have been.
JAMES I would describe it as a ‘mid-market tabloid movie’; Calendar Girls audiences will love it!
Nikki Baughan: 3 stars
James Mottram: 3 stars

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