A determinedly sunny take on the labor struggles of women factory workers at a British Ford plant in 1968, Made in Dagenham is a highly polished comedy with a clear message about equal pay for women. Adapted from William Ivory's seamless script, director Nigel Cole taps into colorful cultural references of the era, such as fashion and local architecture, in order to convey layers of social subtext.
The ever-cheery Sally Hawkins plays Rita, a Norma Rae-like frontrunner who takes the advice of her union rep Albert (Bob Hoskins) and pal Connie (Geraldine James) to lead her co-workers to strike over the 15 percent gap in pay between the women workers and their male counterparts. Miranda Richardson brings welcome fire as Barbara Castle, the secretary of state for employment and productivity, who takes up the cause.
Cole has honed an effective formula for his brand of regionally precise drama. As with his past films Saving Grace and Calendar Girls, Made in Dagenham makes its populist points with a buttery slap and a tickle of spunky wit. And there's nothing wrong with that. Grade: B
Opens Jan. 14. Check out theaters and show times, see the trailer and get theater details here.