In 1968, 187 women working at the Ford factory in Dagenham, an east London suburb, went on strike for equal wages, bringing the mighty car empire temporarily to its knees in a fight that culminated in the Equal Pay Act of 1970.
Director Cole tackles a little-known historical anecdote in the lightest of ways – not ignoring the real struggle of the women involved as the factory laid off many of its 55,000 male workers during the strike, but emphasizing the giddiness that can be induced by a unanimous vote for action and the triumphal feelings that accompany the attainment of common goals.
Hawkins, as the plain-spoken Rita O’Grady thrust into the role of the women’s leader, and Hoskins as the sympathetic union organizer are just as excellent as Rupert Graves playing their antagonist on the employers’ side and Daniel Mays in the role of Rita’s good-natured husband. Wonderfully photographed, Made in Dagenham is a piece of flawless, if at times fluffy, entertainment.
MADE IN DAGENHAM | Directed by Nigel Cole (UK 2010) with Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson. Opens January 13.