MADE IN DAGENHAM * * * *
Cert 15, 112 mins
It comes as little surprise to learn that this film is directed by Nigel Cole, who also made Calendar Girls in 2003.
Both films have the same feel about them and the same theme, of a true story of women banding together on a mission and coping with the reaction from their menfolk.
In Calendar Girls it was posing naked to raise money for charity, and here it’s the fight for equal pay.
Cole has again assembled an impressive British cast, with Miranda Richardson, Bob Hoskins, Kenneth Cranham and John Sessions.
Made in Dagenham takes us back to a time when Britain had a car industry and Ford’s Essex factory was the largest in Europe, employing 55,000 men and 187 women in 1968.
The women were machinists, stitching the car seats and working in poor conditions – and who weren’t happy to be classed as unskilled.
They went on strike for the first time and put up such a fight that they forced through the 1970 Equal Pay Act.
The film is based on real events although Sally Hawkins, as union leader Rita O’Grady, is an amalgam of several real women.
Rita joins fellow union members Albert (Hoskins) and Connie (Geraldine James) in standing up to boss Rupert Graves.
As the strike brings the Cortina and Escort production lines to a standstill, Rita takes the fight for equal pay nationwide and to Westminster.
Here she meets fiery Secretary of State for Employment Barbara Castle, splendidly played by Miranda Richardson.
Predictable, perhaps, but this film is also moving, amusing and compelling. RL
BURIED * * *
Cert 15, 94 mins
Ryan Reynolds, stuck in a coffin, for 90 minutes. That’s the premise of this film which must have cost hardly anything to make – they certainly saved a bundle on cast, location and lighting.
Reynolds plays American truck driver Paul Conroy, kidnapped in Iraq by locals who bury him in a coffin. Via the mobile phone they’ve left in his potential tomb, they tell him he must find someone to come up with millions of dollars or he’s dead.
He tries ringing a few people, only to discover that bureaucratic switchboards can be even more frustrating when you’re fighting for your life. “Don’t put me on hold!” has never been such a heartfelt cry.
This is not a film for the claustrophobic, although the confined space fails to create the tension it might, despite the overdramatic music.
It’s a watchable enough film, if you can overlook all the holes in the plot. RL
CERTIFIED COPY * * * *
Cert PG, 93 mins
Art gallery owner Juliette Binoche is on career-best form in this Before Sunrise-style story about meeting an author (opera singer William Shimell).
Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami simply follows the pair as they get to know each other.
Showing at the MAC from Monday to Thursday, this is deceptively simple, but very well done. GY
THE WILDEST DREAM * * * * *
Cert PG, 93 mins
This adventure film is so much more than a climb up Mount Everest. It also fuses together all that’s great about human enterprise, ambition, endeavour, true love and all of the other characteristics needed to make you one of the most determined men who ever lived.
Cambridge graduate and Somme veteran George Mallory was last seen just 800ft short of the summit of Mt Everest in June, 1924.
When his body was found frozen to the surface of a slope in 1999, his still preserved papers were missing a photograph of beloved wife Ruth.
Had Mallory, as he had promised, reached the top and left it there knowing that he might not return safely?
The Wildest Dream leaves you in no doubt of the scale of his achievement to climb so high in hobnailed boots, so whether or not Mallory reached the peak 30 years before Edmund Hillary is immaterial to the depth of this story.
The stunning cinematography engrosses us so much we never think to question how this film was made.
Conrad Anker tries to return to the summit with British climber Leo Holding, previously untested at altitude but whose finger-gripping technique during a practice climb of some over-hanging rocks in the Peak District leaves us gasping for breath even at low altitude.
The film has extra poignancy because Jennifer Lowe-Anker lost her first husband Alex Lowe to an avalanche in October 1999. She now has to stay at home again – just like Ruth – while second husband Conrad Anker, who has adopted his friend’s three children, returns to face Everest’s eternal dangers.
Liam Neeson narrates the story with Ruth voiced by his wife Natasha Richardson, recorded just weeks before she was killed in a skiing accident.
If you love mountains, make sure you don’t miss one of five screenings of this film at the MAC in Cannon Hill Park from Monday to Thursday next week.
It will haunt you for days. And inspire you forever. GY