Wednesday, 3 July 2013

North Country (2005) - ★★★½

Director: Niki Caro
Writers: Clara Bingham, Laura Leedy (Novel), Michael Seitzman (Screenplay)
Stars: Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sean Bean, Jeremy Renner, Richard Jenkins, Sissy Spacek

I'm really disappointed in North Country. It was fantastic the whole way through... well up until the ending. My God! They managed to turn a truly emotional underdog story into a cheesy Hollywood motion picture in the space of 2 minutes. The performances are top-notch, the story is frustrating but engaging, the cinematography and music is brilliant... but that ending. They almost ruined it with that horribly cheesy ending.

Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron) leaves her abusive husband and moves back to her old town with her two children. Her father (Richard Jenkins) is a sexist man set in his ways, who never fails to remind Josey of how much she's disappointed him. In order to move out of her parents house, she decides to work in the mines with her friend Glory (Frances McDormand). When she gets there, she is abused, victimized, and sexually harassed by many of the male workers. Eventually Josey decides to stand up and sue the company, whose top-boss is as sexist and threatening as the men she works with.

Let me start off by saying, this movie is hard to watch. The whole way through I was furious, frustrated, sad, and pissed-off. That's why I liked this movie, it got me riled up and really invested in her quest for justice. Charlize Theron gives her second greatest performance in this film, her best being her Oscar winning role as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster (2003). For such a beautiful woman, she's one of the best at playing strong and capable characters. Many actresses find it hard to break-free from blonde stereotyping (Cameron Diaz), but Theron has done it better than anyone else.

Frances McDormand provided the comic relief, playing an even stronger and more capable woman than Josie. She was terrific, earning every bit of her Best Supporting Actress nomination. In fact, all of the supporting performances were amazing. Sean Bean had a seamless American accent, playing a house-husband that collects watches. Woody Harrelson was terrific as the lawyer who took on Josie's sexual-harassment case. I'd have to say that Richard Jenkins impressed me the most as the unsympathetic and stubborn father.

It's a tough movie, that's for sure. I cannot for the life of me understand why they demeaned it with such a cheesy ending. One by one people stand up in the court, silently proclaiming their support for Josey. Their expressions of sadness and sympathy were so put on that I felt awkward just watching. It MAY, just may jerk a tear from some people... but all it did was soil an otherwise terrific movie for me.

I'd recommend this movie to feminists, people interested in history... nah, that just sounds ridiculous. Everyone should watch North Country. It's an important true-story that is gripping for the most part. Every performance was fantastic... so despite the ending, it's a really good movie.

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