North Country (2005)

  • Time: 126 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Niki Caro
  • Cast: Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Jeremy Renner, Sissy Spacek


A semi-fictionalized account of a long legal battle of group of women miners who endured a hostile work environment and numerous and continuous insults and unwanted touching when they became the first women to go work at the Eveleth Mines in Minnesota.

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  • Whale Rider director Niki Caro, takes on the first class action law suit and brings it to the big screen in the lukewarm film, North Country. The film stars Academy Award winner Charlize Theron in a role proving she is no one trick pony. Since her terrifying turn in Monster, Theron has become one of the better working actress’ of today.

    The film tells the story of Josie Aimes, a single mother trying to make a better life for herself and her children. After moving in with her loving mother (Sissy Spacek) and hard-hearted father, (Richard Jenkins) Josie gets a job at the town’s coal mine. When Josie and her co-workers are victims of sexual harassment, Josie decides to fight back. She hires a non-practicing lawyer (Woody Harrelson) and confides in her friend Glory (Frances McDormand) and her husband Kyle (Sean Bean).

    With a very surface story with very little character behind it, the performances pull you through roughly. Theron gives a stunning portrayal of a broken woman searching for justice and equality. Theron’s Josie is an amazing testament to the struggling women we see ever so often in our everyday world. Theron’s breakdown scenes is where she shines the most and her pain stricken eyes is what makes the viewer fall in love with Josie.

    Frances McDormand, one of our greatest living actresses takes on a role similar to her Oscar winning portrayal in Fargo. Her tough woman persona while remaining vulnerable in her battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease is beauty of the character, Glory. McDormand is probably our nearest living acting revelation to great actresses like Meryl Streep or Katherine Hepburn, she’s less frequently recognized by the Academy.

    With these two powerful women helming this acting vehicle, they are not the best among this star-studded cast. This viewer found solace in Sean Bean’s beautiful turn as Kyle, Annie’s supportive husband. This is Bean’s best turn yet in his career and remains to be Hollywood’s best kept secret of working actors around. Bean’s vulnerability, soft spoken encouragement speeches and amazing light humor is one of the most underrated turns of the year. We only hope for more parts like this to come to Bean because he does it well.

    Harrelson gives an admiral effort for his broken lawyer but lacks development to bring him to the next level. Jenkins is one notch behind Bean in a blink and miss role but still very effective post-film experience. Spacek is a waste and limited to rolling eyes and grunts and tears. Her presence in the film is still a wonderful one for a legendary actress like her.

    Director Caro gives the woman all the power but it’s the men that shine in this picture about struggles. I’m sure while unintentional, Caro spent the time and money developing strong woman and emerged with admiral men who shine in every scene. The screenplay is very cheesy which makes the film slow down for the viewer and it’s not as visually stunning as Caro’s previous work Whale Rider.

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