North Country Reviews
Bill Maher issued a "New Rule" when this film first came out: "New rule: Charlize Theron must be hot again." This was as he showed a picture of Theron covered in grime, a still from North Country. Isn't it ironic that she would still be seen as a sex symbol in a film that discourages seeing women as sex symbols? Such jokes - and they are not just jokes - constitute the cultural problem at the center of this slow-paced but compelling drama.
The performances by Theron and Frances McDormand are fantastic, each actress able to embody both natural femininity and the masculine mask they must put on in order to function in the mine. The most compelling scene in the film is provided by Richard Jenkins, who must defend his daughter against the screaming taunts of his co-workers.
But there are issues with the film. First, it delves into a few cliches along the way, including the climactic courtroom revelation, which I won't give away; suffice it to say that you won't be surprised. Second, on two occasions, the first being the Richard Jenkins scene and the second the very existence of the Woody Harrelson character, men are required to give women a voice. It seems as though the film is so self-conscious about not demonizing men that it contradicted its point by portraying men as necessary for female political and social action.
Overall, North Country starkly presents a serious cultural problem that, though set in 1989, certainly resonates today.
While I watched this, I couldn't help being amazed by how vile, disrespectful and discriminatory people can be. Surprisingly engaging, since I only planned to watch about an hour before I went to sleep, and I stayed up for the whole thing.
After "Monster", Charlize Theron tackles another big role and NAILS it. The always great Frances McDormand, the underrated Michelle Monaghan and Richard Jenkins are great as well.
[font=Century Gothic]"North Country" is a well-meaning movie but there is very little nuance in the way it is told. Very little is shown of the miners working; just the abuse. In the film, northern Minnesota makes Iran look positively liberal.(I can understand small towns being conservative but still...) Another fault is that the emphasis is purely on Josey's story.(The movie climaxes on an irrelevant subplot concerning her. There is another subplot which is completely shameless.) We learn very little of the other women's lives. Overall, the movie is rather unkind to unions.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Of the performances - Charlize Theron is perfectly fine in the lead but the film wastes Sissy Spacek in a throwaway role. Woody Harrelson is miscast as a local lawyer. Sean Bean gives a superb performance as Glory's husband. [/font]