North Country

"Excellent"

North Country Review


Director Niki Caro is a female protagonist's best friend. In Whale Rider, Caro received widespread acclaim for her story about a determined young girl's struggle to break down traditional male stereotypes and take the throne of her land. Caro's follow-up is North Country, where she teams up with one of today's strongest female leads to tell the story that precipitated the groundbreaking laws protecting women against sexual harassment in the workplace.

Inspired by true events during the late 1980s at a Northern Minnesota iron mine, Country focuses on Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron), a recently separated young mother who has returned to her hometown to reassemble her life. But Josey's return does not sit well with the locals. They call her a slut, a whore, and whisper wisecracks about her two children born out of wedlock. Even Josey's father Hank (Richard Jenkins) resents her return, saying she has brought nothing but shame to the family.

Despite all of the pessimism, Josey is determined to make a better life for herself and her kids. An old friend (Frances McDormand) encourages Josey to apply for a job at the local mining company where she works. This decision is strongly opposed by her parents. Hank (who also works at the mine) calls Josey a lesbian, while her mom Alice (Sissy Spacek) insists Josey's place is in the home caring for her children. This negativity only furthers Josey's drive to prove everyone wrong; she accepts the job.

And the harassment begins.

Josey is subjected to a pre-employment gynecological exam where a company doctor must "certify" that she's not pregnant. On her first day, Josey's boss tells her and the other new female employees that though they have no business working there, there was nothing he could do about it. Josey is tasked with cleaning and scrubbing mining equipment for a direct supervisor who insists he'll have no "fatties" on his team. This is just the tip of the harassment iceberg. Soon, dildos are planted in lunch buckets and derogatory messages are written in fecal matter on the women's locker room walls. Lawsuits eventually ensue.

Caro paints some of the most shocking and loathsome landscapes of sexual harassment conceivable. At times the repulsiveness is so heavy that Country becomes nearly unbearable to watch. Yet, what's most commendable about Caro's shrewd direction is that she avoids the pitfalls other filmmakers would take relying on gratuitous violence to make their point. Instead, she patiently waits for the story to unfold and allows the finely conceived dialogue and visuals to provide the film's strongest bite.

Michael Seitzman's highly competent screenplay is well executed and complemented by the effective cast. But as in Rider, Country belongs to its female lead. Theron's accomplished performance is compelling and complex. Her Josey serves as a fine role model for anyone, not just women, to never back down from what's right and to never give up on their dreams. At times I found myself questioning why Josey would even consider a doing a job where women are not welcome. It's a complete credit to her strength and motivation to provide for her family that brings her back day after excruciating day.

If there's any fault to be found, Country does run a little too long and the courtroom scenes are a little too stagy and melodramatic. Knowing the film's outcome before it begins also deadens some of the dramatic punch. Yet, it doesn't take away from the important message of courage and self-reflection that Country asks us to consider. Country is thought provoking long after it's over.

Gray country.



North Country

Facts and Figures

Run time: 126 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st October 2005

Box Office USA: $18.3M

Box Office Worldwide: $25.2M

Budget: $35M

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: Warner Bros., Industry Entertainment, Participant Media, Nick Wechsler Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Fresh: 114 Rotten: 54

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Josey Aimes, Elle Peterson as Karen Aimes, Thomas Curtis as Sammy Aimes, as Glory, as Kyle, as Bill White, as Young Josey, as Bobby Sharp, as Hank Aimes, as Alice Aimes, James Cada as Don Pearson, as Big Betty, as Leslie Conlin, as Sherry, as Lattavansky, as Peg, as Ricky Sennett

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.