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Made in Dagenham DVD Review

Made in Dagenham (2010) movie poster Made in Dagenham

US Theatrical Release: November 19, 2010 / Running Time: 113 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Nigel Cole / Writer: William Ivory / Songs List

Cast: Sally Hawkins (Rita O'Grady), Bob Hoskins (Albert Passingham), Miranda Richardson (Barbara Castle), Geraldine James (Connie), Rosamund Pike (Lisa Hopkins), Andrea Riseborough (Brenda), Daniel Mays (Eddie O'Grady), Jaime Winstone (Sandra), Kenneth Cranham (Monty Taylor), Rupert Graves (Peter Hopkins), John Sessions (Harold Wilson), Roger Lloyd-Pack (George), Richard Schiff (Robert Tooley), Sian O'Scott (Sharon O'Grady), Robbie Kay (Graham O'Grady), Joseph Kloska (Undersecretary 1), Miles Jupp (Undersecretary 2), Andrew Lincoln (Mr. Clarke), Joseph Mawle (Gordon), Matt King (Trevor Innes), Matthew Aubrey (Brian)

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The English drama Made in Dagenham tells the true story of a significant 1968 strike of women's workers. If that is not a subject of interest to you already, it probably still won't be after watching this film.

Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins) takes offense at the Ford Motor Company's response to the single-day machinist work stoppage, to the out-of-focus delight of union organizer Albert (Bob Hoskins). First Secretary of State Barbara Castle (Miranda Richardson) and Prime Minister Harold Wilson (John Sessions) have an outdoor chat about the Dagenham labor situation, not seeing it eye to eye.

Numbering 187 and in charge of stitching seat upholstery, female machinists make up a small but integral part of the Ford automotive company's UK workforce. The Dagenham women's factory conditions are unpleasant and the pay is disproportionate. Every employee agrees with the plans of union organizer Albert Passingham (Bob Hoskins).
Albert chooses Rita O'Grady (Happy-Go-Lucky's Sally Hawkins), an ordinary worker (and historical composite), to accompany him and represent the women on a visit to the higher-ups. When requests are not met, the machinists stage a one-day work stoppage. When they get a letter reprimanding their action, they begin an indefinite strike which soon holds severe consequences for Ford's car production and the company's male employees.

The top demand is equal pay for the sexes, an idea that seems radical and unfeasible to Ford executives on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Determined and unified, the women elicit sympathy from a Cambridge-educated housewife (Rosamund Pike) of a Ford executive and even Secretary of State Barbara Castle (Miranda Richardson). But not everyone is supportive of their decisions. Rita's critical involvement in the dispute bears heavily on her husband (Daniel Mays), who struggles to take care of their two kids. Meanwhile, fellow female rally leader Connie (Geraldine James) is given pause by the depression the strike causes her war veteran husband (Roger Lloyd-Pack).

A Ford executive's undervalued wife, Lisa Hopkins (Rosamund Pike), pays Rita a visit of encouragement. The strike she leads has domestic consequences for Rita (Sally Hawkins) and her husband (Daniel Mays).

Made in Dagenham is a laborious movie. Its story seems to be one worth telling. The screenplay, the second theatrical feature of TV actor/writer William Ivory, has some decent ideas and exchanges. The acting from the accomplished mostly British cast is prudent. But the whole thing is direly inert and uneventful. Once the premise is established, the film stalls, dealing imagined conversations among the women and their families that only reiterate what is already known. Genuine conflict is kept to a minimum. Characters are short on distinctive personality. I would hope that, despite the compositing and usual fictionalization claims, Ivory's script remains faithful to the facts because there is simply nothing inventive enough here to bother making up (besides that the heroines were fit and fashionable).

A fair amount of blame must be placed on director Nigel Cole (Calendar Girls), who returns to England after helming a couple of American films (one of them Ashton Kutcher's A Lot Like Love). Cole just doesn't infuse the proceedings with any energy or weight. It doesn't help that the issue in question, so improbable some forty years ago,
now seems not to require the slightest bit of deliberation. Not that equality exists and sexism doesn't today. It just feels like an odd time and place to dramatize and immortalize historical social activism.

The shortcomings would be less objectionable if this was made for television, as it kind of feels it should have been (despite the cinematically seasoned talent). That is not meant to marginalize the real event or to disparage the well-intentioned efforts to translate them. There just isn't the ambition and power there should be from a $7 million picture being sent to theaters around the globe.

Performing modestly in the UK and other European territories where it is still rolling out, Made in Dagenham was barely a blip on the American scene, where it garnered few award nominations despite its fall timing, overwhelmingly favorable reviews, and well-realized period design. This Sony Pictures Classics release takes another stab at American attention when it comes to DVD and Blu-ray this week.

Made in Dagenham DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Most Extras Subtitled in English
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $28.95
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($34.95 SRP)
and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Made in Dagenham is presented, like the vast majority of modern film, in the 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio. The DVD's picture quality is quite satisfactory. It's clean, sharp, and displays fairly good detail. A tiny bit of period stock footage is employed and it stands out slightly (in a good way), as do rare bits emulating retro broadcasts. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is pedestrian, coming to life for a few '60s tunes (listed, as always, below) but mostly remaining front-anchored, reasonably clear, and unremarkable.

Director Nigel Cole's hair blows in the wind during his making-of featurette interview. Connie (Geraldine James) looks concerned by her husband's silent depression (Roger Lloyd-Pack) in this short deleted scene. Sally Hawkins' poster/cover pose makes for a happy-go-lucky center of the DVD's stagnant main menu screen.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Extras begin with an audio commentary by director Nigel Cole, who humbly and repeatedly encourages you to listen to the movie instead of him.
For a solo track, Cole fares okay, talking largely about filming conditions (working with non-actors) and the facts (how real factory workers informed the film's details). It doesn't really enhance one's appreciation for the movie, but it doesn't bore all that much more than the film does.

"Made in Dagenham: Behind the Scenes" (13:20) from Starz is a standard but good making-of featurette that gathers comments on the project from crew and cast.

Explaining why the movie feels overlong, the eight deleted scenes (7:36) are extremely uneventful. The snippets involve little more than walking or the women with their men. To boot, the cuts are not enhanced for 16:9 displays and look like streaming Internet video from the '90s.

Even the outtakes reel (2:15) is unusually boring, a fact that overpowering score cannot undo.

The extras appropriately conclude with Made in Dagenham's theatrical trailer (2:19).

Bizarrely, the DVD opens with a promo for home 3D featuring Open Season's Elliot and Boog, which is followed by more appropriate trailers for Another Year, Barney's Version, The Illusionist, and Inside Job. The menu's "Previews" listing plays the same 10-minute loop.

Static and silent, the menus put cast members and '60s clothing in red circles against a white background, with a peace sign cursor on most.

In 1968, the female workers of Ford's Dagenham factory strike in "Made in Dagenham."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Not funny, dramatic, or stirring, Made in Dagenham has a message only misogynists could hate, but it is just too dull to appreciate as intended. I hate to kick an independent movie that is already on the ground in obscurity, but this film has picked up enough praise from others to sustain my unreserved lack of an endorsement. There is less to dislike about Sony's fine DVD, although its making-of featurette is the only bonus worth your time.

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Directed by Nigel Cole: $5 a Day

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Made in Dagenham Songs List (in order of use):
Desmond Dekker and the Aces - "Israelites"
Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs - "Wooly Bully"
PAMS - "BBC Radio 1 Jingle"
Brian Auger - "Tiger"
Spanky and Our Gang - "Sunday Will Never Be the Same"
Nicky Scott - "Big City"
The Lemon Pipers - "Green Tambourine"
Small Faces - "All or Nothing"
Traffic - "Paper Sun"
Desmond Dekker - "You Can Get It If You Really Want"
Sandie Shaw - "Made in Dagenham"

Made in Dagenham: Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture:
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Reviewed March 28, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2010 Sony Pictures Classics, BBC Films, UK Film Council, and
and 2011 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.