Made in Dagenham review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
In 1968, the Ford auto factory in Dagenham was one of the largest single private employers in the United Kingdom; Made in Dagenham is the story of the small spark started by the underpaid female workers of the Dagenham Ford factory that eventually led to the feminist fire that was the Equal Pay Act.
Directed by Nigel Cole, who is best known for the 2003 British hit Calendar Girls, Made in Dagenham tells the story of Rita O’Grady (Sally Hawkins) who takes the cause of underpaid female factory machinists and brings it to the attention of the Unions, the Ford car company and the UK Government.
With Rita and the shop’s steward at the helm the women of the Ford factory go on strike after discovering that their poor working conditions are linked to a deep set ignorance and ambivalence toward women in the workplace. Rita discovers that she and the women she works with are paid a fraction of the wage of their male counterparts, solely because of their sex.
The film is undeniably interesting, the setting is excellent and the characters are very likeable. It has a real feel-good factor to it, with a light hearted and occasionally comedic tone. This makes the film very watchable and is pretty encouraging as it should help younger viewers to realise how recently such injustices were being predicated. However, it also makes the subject seem a little less serious; perhaps almost sullying the story the film sets out to tell.
Hawkins is brilliant and the rest of the girls at the factory are real characters, it is them and their personalities that help drive the film forward, rather than the arguably intense theme. There is not a great deal of time dedicated to the impact of the strikes upon the lives of the workers, small mentions to the financial strain pepper the latter half of the movie but otherwise the film dwells more in the positive and uplifting strong-undervalued-women section.