Solidarity and the city slicker
Made in Dagenham
'GIRL power' is a phenomenon more associated with the Spice Girls than factory girls. But that may be about to change, courtesy of historical drama Made in Dagenham.
Set in 1968 and starring Sally Hawkins and Bob Hoskins, this Nigel Cole (Calendar Girls)-directed feature tells the tale of the women machinists whose unwillingness to accept the status quo at work (the Ford motor factory in Dagenham) kick-started a chain of events that resulted in Britain's Equal Pay Act.
Hawkins takes the central role as Rita, a feisty but under-confident working mum who reaches tipping point when Ford seeks to introduce new conditions that will declare both her and the rest of the women as "unskilled". The upshot of this arrangement is to maintain a policy of men being paid more than women for similar work. Inspired by Rita, these "Boadiceas in hairnets" down tools and take to the picket line. The British Labour government are ultimately obliged to intervene and the rest is history.
Both worthy and workmanlike, Made in Dagenham works well as a spectacle without ever quite shaking off a sense that if we were living in a totalitarian socialist state, this is the type of fare that would be required viewing.
Hawkins delivers her customary strong performance and Hoskins is foot-perfect -- but any film reliant on "Trade Union Conference, Eastbourne" for a climactic moment is always going to be lacking in the wow factor.
Now showing nationwide
Wall Street: Money Never sleeps
Oliver Stone has always been an erratic writer/ director. His ideas, though often great, sometimes get bogged down in ideologies, intentions and techniques. When Wall Street came out in 1987 it all came together and a zeitgeist movie was born. But 23 years on, Stone revisits Wall Street and Gordon Gekko, attempting a zeitgeist sequel for related but very different times. And this one gets bogged down.
It's now 2008 and after a post-jail wilderness Gekko is peddling his salutary book. Avid fan Jake (Shia LaBeouf) is a Wall Street energies expert who happens to be dating Winnie (Carey Mulligan), Gordon's daughter. A whispering campaign on Wall Street leads to the demise of Jake's firm and mentor, he suspects rival firm and new Gekko-style hate figure Bretton James (Josh Brolin), and with Gordon's help worms his way in.
The sequel is timely; notions of bad banks, greed and where power really lies are pertinent. Timing has rendered poignancies too, like Douglas talking of cancer and a drug-addicted son.
However the film loses its way in the personal stuff. Stone is not good with female characters and Winnie is whiney and a bit daft. LaBeouf holds his own, just, but lacks presence, Brolin has presence but his character isn't great and Frank Langhella isn't around for long so Douglas has little competition.
There are plenty of cameos: Eli Wallach, Susan Sarandon, Charlie Sheen, Warren Buffet, Graydon Carter and many more. But at 135 minutes the film is too long and meanders towards the end. It's not bad, but it should be better.
Open nationwide on Friday