North Country—Warner Brothers
In this thought-provoking film inspired by a true story, acclaimed New Zealand director Niki Caro (Whale Rider) offers viewers another portrait of a courageous heroine breaking the gender barrier to overcome traditionally male-dominated roles.
In an Oscar-worthy performance, Charlize Theron brings unaffected authenticity to her role as Josey Aimes, an abused young mother who sets out on her own, landing a back-breaking job at an iron mine in Northern Minnesota during the late 1980s. She and her female coworkers become victims of incessant abuse from the men who resent their presence. After being ostracized by her family and coworkers for standing up to injustice, she decides to fight back, filing a groundbreaking class-action sexual-harassment lawsuit.
The film unfolds in a series of flash-backs with a muted color palette, reflecting the bleakness of Josey’s life. The 2.40:1 anamorphic picture is natural looking with a slight softness at times. An atmospheric Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack makes subtle use of the surround speakers with easy-to-understand dialogue. Music by Gustavo Santaolalla hauntingly resonates the somber mood of the picture, with Bob Dylan, a Minnesota native, contributing several songs. Special features are scant but include a fascinating making-of documentary that highlights interviews with the real women who inspired the story. A segment of deleted scenes is also worth a watch.
North Country is a powerful and beautiful film that will likely provoke a strong emotional response and inspire dialogue on an issue that still impacts our times.