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Movie Review: North Country

Alternate Title: A Woman's Place is ...Anywhere.

Story: Give me a film about an underdog versus 'The Man' and I am in the audience. Make that underdog a hard working blue collar gal who is sexually harassed (make that throttled) in the workplace and I am there early in the morning.

The story is based loosely on the Jensen vs. Eleveth Mines case in Northern Minnesota (1989). It was the first sexual harassment class action suit filed in the US. The trials' results changed the US workplace evermore (we hope).

Director Niki Caro's sophomore outing (Whale Rider) is laudable. She knows how to handle women's issues in the manner of Silkwood and Norma Rae. The screenplay by Michael Seitzman is based on the book, Class Action: The Story of Lois Jensen & the Landmark Case that Changed Sexual Harassment Law by Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy.

It is the type of old fashioned slow story telling that works very well. The characters' story is told in a non-linear fashion and that method keeps you interested. While most of the women are portrayed as 'good' not all of the men are 'evil.' Although a whole mess of them make you want to puke.

It is hard to believe that these sexual harassment laws only change 16 years ago. Working and non-working women across this land should go to see this film to try to fathom what it was like for some of us before these large corporations were held accountable for their actions. Men should also go to see this film if they don't want their women to punch them when they get home. It is an important film that will give you lots to talk about leave the theater.

Acting: You can't go wrong with three Oscar winners in a cast. Charlize Theron (Monster) as Josey is terrific once again. There's a lot of emoting but I found it all real and while she is one gorgeous woman, she held her ground and was believable.Frances McDormand (Fargo) returns to that great accent she had as Marge in Fargo and is wonderful in this film too.Our third Oscar winner is Sissy Spacek (Coal Miner's Daughter) as Josey's mother. She doesn't have that much to do but she is always heartfelt. Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under) as Josey's Dad is great. The supporting cast including Woody Harrelson, Elle Peterson and Michelle Monaghan are all believable and gritty.

Predilection: I like films about underdogs.

Critters: None.

Food: Meat and potatoes.

Soundtrack: A terrific soundtrack with several tunes by Minnesota's own Bob Dylan (always works for me).

Visual Art: Kudos to cinematographer Chris Menges. His stark images of the expansive Northern Minnesota landscape juxtaposed against the close spaces of the mines is impressive.

Theater Audience: We were alone in the secret balcony of my multiplex. I have no idea who was downstairs.

Squirm Scale: The vile sexual harassment by the coal miners was very squirmy indeed. I also squirmed when they showed footage of the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings.

Drift Factor: No drifting here. But here were lots of snow drifts.

Predictability Level: High.

Tissue Usage: We both used a tissue.

Oscar Worthy: I would not be surprised if Charlize Theron got a nod and Frances McDormand got a nod for Best Supporting Actor.

Soap Box: Don't get me started about sexual harassment.

Nit Picking: Some of the scenes were contrived and a bit soapy but the film is so important I am letting it go.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. For some of Charlize Theron's other films, try renting: Monster, The Italian Job, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, The Cider House Rules, Celebrity and The Devil's Advocate.

Length: A little long at a bit over two hours.

LOBO HOWLS: 8