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This article refers to the 2005 film. For other meanings, see North Country.


North Country is a 2005 Americanmarker drama film directed by Niki Caro. The screenplay by Michael Seitzman was inspired by the 2002 book Class Action: The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case That Changed Sexual Harassment Law by Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy Gansler, which chronicled the case of Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Company.

Plot synopsis

When Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron) returns to her hometown in Northern Minnesotamarker in 1989, after leaving her abusive husband, she needs a good job. A single mother with two children to support, she turns to the predominant source of employment in the region – the iron mines.

The mines provide a livelihood that has sustained a community for generations. The work is hard but the pay is good and friendships that form on the job extend into everyday life, bonding families and neighborhoods with a common thread.

It’s an industry long dominated by men, in a place unaccustomed to change.

Encouraged by her old friend Glory (Frances McDormand), one of the few female miners in town, Josey joins the ranks of those laboring to blast ore from rock in the gaping quarries. She is prepared for the back-breaking and often dangerous work, but coping with the harassment she and the other female miners encounter from their male coworkers proves far more challenging.

Times are tough. The last thing the miners want is women competing for scarce jobs – women who, in their estimation, have no business driving trucks and hauling rock anyway. If these newcomers want to work the mines they’ll have to do it on the terms set by the veteran workforce and it won’t be easy. Take it or leave it.

When Josey speaks out against the treatment she and her fellow workers face she is met with resistance – not only from those in power but from a community that doesn’t want to hear the truth, her disapproving parents and many of her own colleagues who fear she is only making things worse. In time, even her friendship with Glory will be tested, her already difficult connection with her father, a lifelong miner, will be pushed to its limit and elements of her personal life exposed to scrutiny. The fallout from Josey’s battle to make a better future for herself and her children will affect every aspect of her life, including her relationship with her young daughter and her sensitive teenage son, who must first cope with the embarrassment of his mother’s sudden notoriety and then face harsh details of her past she was hoping he would never have to know.

Through these struggles Josey will find the courage to stand up for what she believes in – even if that means standing alone.

Production notes

Lois Jenson, on whom the character of Josey is based, actually began working at the EVTAC mine in Eveleth, Minnesotamarker in 1975 and initiated her lawsuit in 1984, four years before the year in which the film begins. Its time line was condensed, but in reality it took fourteen years for the case to be settled. Jenson declined to sell the rights to her story or act as the film's consultant .

The film was shot in in the towns of Eveleth, Virginiamarker, and Chisholmmarker in northern Minnesotamarker; Minneapolismarker; and Silver Citymarker and Santa Femarker in New Mexicomarker.

The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festivalmarker and was shown at the Chicago International Film Festival before going into theatrical release in the US, where it grossed $6,422,455 in its opening weekend, ranking 5th at the box office . Budgeted at $30 million, it eventually grossed $18,324,242 in the US and $5,300,000 in foreign markets for a total worldwide box office of $23,624,242 .

Soundtrack

  1. "North Country" by Gustavo Santaolalla – 2:08
  2. "Girl Of The North Country" by Leo Kottke – 3:33
  3. "Tell Ol' Bill" by Bob Dylan – 5:08
  4. "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon – 3:28
  5. "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes – 3:49
  6. "If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me)" by The Bellamy Brothers – 3:17
  7. "Lay Lady Lay" by Bob Dylan – 3:19
  8. "A Saturday In My Classroom" by Gustavo Santaolalla – 3:46
  9. "Sweetheart Like You" by Bob Dylan – 4:37
  10. "Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me" by Mac Davis – 3:05
  11. "Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others)" by Bob Dylan – 3:52
  12. "Standing Up" by Gustavo Santaolalla – 2:43
  13. "Paths Of Victory" by Cat Power – 3:24


Songs in the movie that weren't in the soundtrack release include "Wasn't That a Party" by The Irish Rovers, "Shake the House Down" by Molly Hatchet and karaoke versions of George Thorogood's "I Drink Alone" and Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."

Principal cast



Critical reception

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 69% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 162 reviews . On Metacritic, the film has an average score of 68 out of 100, based on 39 reviews .

Manohla Dargis of the New York Times called it "a star vehicle with heart - an old-fashioned liberal weepie about truth and justice" and added, "[It] is one of those Hollywood entertainments that strive to tell a hard, bitter story with as much uplift as possible. That the film works as well as it does, delivering a tough first hour only to disintegrate like a wet newspaper, testifies to the skill of the filmmakers as well as to the constraints brought on them by an industry that insists on slapping a pretty bow on even the foulest truth."

In his review in the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert observed, "North Country is one of those movies that stir you up and make you mad, because it dramatizes practices you've heard about but never really visualized. We remember that Frances McDormand played a woman police officer in this same area in Fargo, and we value that memory, because it provides a foundation for Josey Aimes. McDormand's role in this movie is different and much sadder, but brings the same pluck and common sense to the screen. Put these two women together (as actors and characters) and they can accomplish just about anything. Watching them do it is a great movie experience."

Ruthe Stein of the San Francisco Chronicle called the film a "compelling if occasionally unnecessarily convoluted movie . . . The first 15 minutes or so are a mess . . . Fortunately, [it] calms down and becomes extremely engrossing, especially in the courtroom battles . . . it's all carefully calculated for dramatic effect and succeeds brilliantly in drawing you in and eliciting tears in the process . . . North Country would have benefited from crisper editing. It runs at least 15 minutes longer than necessary . . . For all its flaws, [it] delivers an emotional wallop and a couple of performances worthy of recognition come award time."

In Rolling Stone, Peter Travers awarded the film two out of a possible four stars and commented, "Any similarities between Josey and Lois Jenson, the real woman who made Eveleth Mines pay for their sins in a landmark 1988 class-action suit, are purely coincidental. Instead, we get a TV-movie fantasy of female empowerment glazed with soap-opera theatrics. The actors, director Niki Caro (Whale Rider) and the great cinematographer Chris Menges all labor to make things look authentic. But a crock is a crock, despite the ferocity and feeling Theron brings to the role . . . Though the dirt and grime in North Country are artfully applied, it's purely cosmetic and skin-deep." However, in, "Stories from North Country," a documentary accompanying the film on the DVD, Lori Jenson, on whom the story is based, said, "I think it's important for people to see this." Regarding Charlize Theron, Jenson said, "She has the character. [...] She knew the part. She knew what it needed--the depth she needed to go to. She's done a great job with it."

David Rooney of Variety said, "[It] indulges in movie-ish manipulation in its climactic courtroom scenes. But it remains an emotionally potent story told with great dignity, to which women especially will respond . . . The film represents a confident next step for lead Charlize Theron. Though the challenges of following a career-redefining Oscar role have stymied actresses, Theron segues from Monster to a performance in many ways more accomplished . . . The strength of both the performance and character anchor the film firmly in the tradition of other dramas about working-class women leading the fight over industrial workplace issues, such as Norma Rae or Silkwood."

In the St. Petersburg Times, Steve Persall graded the film A and called it "deeply, undeniably moving . . . crusader cinema at its finest."

Awards and nominations



See also



References

  1. "A victim rises up," St. Petersburg Times, October 20, 2005
  2. North Country at BoxOfficeMojo.com
  3. North Country at TheNumbers.com
  4. North Country at Rotten Tomatoes.com
  5. North Country at Metacritic.com
  6. New York Times review
  7. Chicago Sun-Times review
  8. San Francisco Chronicle review
  9. Rolling Stone review
  10. Variety review
  11. St. Petersburg Times review


External links




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