North Country (2005)
Directed by: Niki Caro
Premise: True story of a woman (Charlize Theron) who led a class action sexual harassment lawsuit against a mining company in northern Minnesota.
What Works: All of the performances in the film are very strong. Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand give award worthy performances and capture the complexity of their characters and their relation to the environment. Richard Jenkins’ also gives a noteworthy performance as Theron’s father. There is a great family dynamic at work with Theron’s children although more so with her son (Thomas Curtis). What is most striking about the film is the way that it captures the environment of these people. North Country hits the rural Midwestern culture on the nose, in some ways that may be painful or embarrassing for some viewers.
What Doesn’t: The portrayal of the male workers in the mine tends to go a little over the top in its chauvinism. The ending does a lot to correct this and this broad brushing is understandable because it fills a dramatic need to isolate Theron’s character.
Bottom Line: North Country is a very entertaining film and has a well-structured story. Its intelligence and its daring separate it from what otherwise would be a Lifetime network movie-of-the-week. It relies on a lot of traditional one-against-the-world story techniques but North Country’s textured portrayal of the environment and the family dynamics bring it to another level.
Episode: #75 (November 20, 2005)