A fictionalized account of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States -- Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines, where a woman who endured a range of abuse while working as a miner filed and won the landmark 1984 lawsuit.
1989. Josey Aimes takes her two kids, Sammy and Karen, and leaves her abusive husband Wayne, to return to her northern Minnesota home town. On a chance meeting with her old friend Glory Dodge who works as a driver and union rep at the mine operated by Pearson Taconite and Steel, Josey decides to work at the mine as well, work that is dominated by men in number and in tone. She does so to be able to stand on her own two feet for the first time in her life, something she probably could not have done if she remained in a job washing hair at a beauty salon. Working at the mine does not sit well with her father, Hank Aimes, who also works at the mine and who, like the other male workers, believes she is taking a job away from a man. Hank has believed that all Josey's problems are of her own doing, ever since she, unmarried, had Sammy while she was still in high school. Josey has always stated that she does not know who Sammy's biological father is, which fosters Hank's attitude about her. ... Written by
Lady, you sit in your nice house, clean floors, your bottled water, your flowers on Valentine's Day, and you think you're tough? Wear my shoes. Tell me tough. Work a day in the pit, tell me tough.
I'm sure we're all sufficiently impressed, Mrs. Aimes.
There's no "Mrs." here.
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Uneven handling alternates between sympathetic, heavy-handed and mawkish...
In the iron mines of Northern Minnesota, circa 1989, a young woman (a single mother of two with a shady-lady past) goes to work as a miner and encounters personally degrading harassment from the mostly male crew. A compassionate and sensitive rewriting of a true incident--one that took some ten years to resolve in the courts--but possibly overcrowded with too much melodramatic content. Supporting characters--like Frances McDormand's dump truck driver--do not get enough quality screen-time to completely validate the time which they do have. The over-emotional finale is also questionable (were these filmmakers ever in a courtroom before?), but it does provide the audience with the release it needs. In the lead, Charlize Theron gives a finely-wrought, gripping performance; she shows her guts, fear, and bravery, but I'm not sure how convincing she is as mother to an older teenage boy (it seems a little soon for Theron, and the same can be said for Sissy Spacek as the proverbial salt-of-the-earth grandmother). Does the film show all sides and give both the men and the women a fair shake? Probably not, but it's not a man-hater movie either, and since it's told from the female protagonist's point of view, her endurance against certain men is the focal point here. Ultimately, the movie is about her courage, her strength in standing up for herself, and this is expressed here extremely well. *** from ****
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