Starring: Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Andrea Riseborough
Director: Nigel Cole
Running Time: 113 mins
Made In Dagenham is a British film about the true story of the Ford machinists, a group of over 100 women who went on strike against the Ford motor company to demand equal pay with men, and caused an enormous stir in Britain that initiated real change in pay equality for women.
Featuring a good blend of comedy and pure historical fact, Made In Dagenham is both an enjoyable and consistently interesting watch. With lively performances and a pleasant atmosphere, it’s good fun throughout, but doesn’t quite manage to emphasise the importance of the events depicted, occasionally feeling a little more strained and even superficial when it comes to the issue of women’s rights.
But let’s start on the plus side, with the historical story. In all truth, it’s not a moment of history that I was aware of before the film, but it proves a mighty interesting watch to see how just over 100 women managed to both bring one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies to a standstill, but also set an entire country on its way to achieving proper equality.
In that, you get a great range of insights across the board, as the film not only looks into how the main characters faced discrimination in their home life as well as their work life, due to purely institutionalised perceptions, but also the mechanics of government when dealing with such a big, progressive movement, and the reaction of various other groups from the Ford bosses themselves to trade union leaders.
So, if you’re wanting an education into the history of the Ford machinists, this film is definitely the one for you.
And if you want a pretty light-hearted and enjoyable comedy-drama too, then Made In Dagenham does a fine job. Director Nigel Cole sets the film’s tone straight almost immediately, landing you in the women’s large workroom, and showing a good few fiery characters pop up and make a few coarse remarks.
From then on, the film continues to showcase some of the most confident and strong women, with a particularly memorable performance from Andrea Riseborough in a supporting role, proving both hugely entertaining with her loud mouth and still appropriate and effective in the film’s portrayal of the strike for equality.
I can’t say that the rest of the performances in this film are particularly astonishing, with lead star Sally Hawkins not really managing to bring her character across as someone who is both truly genuine and likable, and that does have an impact in the way that you respond to her passion for the movement, something that I found a little disappointing.
And in the end, I think that’s my biggest qualm with Made In Dagenham: it’s not really powerful enough. It’s interesting and enjoyable, but it’s not a rousing call to arms to reemphasise the importance of women’s rights and equality, and fails to match similar civil rights films like Pride in that regard, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.1 overall.