The Dagenham Ford factory, 1968. Three hundred female workers go on strike in protest at sexual discrimination, taking on the might of Ford in the process.
Calendar Girls director Nigel Cole returns to comfortable ground after so-so Hollywood outings A Lot Like Love and $5 A Day with this true story of ordinary people wrestling with extraordinary circumstances, this time the injustice of women’s pay during late-’60s Britain. Cole has assembled a superior cast (including Happy-Go-Lucky’s Sally Hawkins), while Billy Ivory’s screenplay offers comfortable archetypes (feisty factory girl; gruff but decent boss; ice queen with good heart et al) which they skilfully fill. As with Calendar Girls there’s a cosy, soapy feel, as relationships falter and loyalties conflict, which while not a bad thing suggests Sunday teatime fiction rather than social document. It’s a shame the political theme feels so secondary, with end-credits interviews with the real-life campaigners stoking more interest in the fight than the film itself.
While the political grit behind the saga is somewhat sidelined, this is a fun watch enhanced by its stellar British cast.