True life better than the movie

By Nate Buchik
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 27, 2005

Movies on the Lifetime channel are always terrible.

It's not because the actors - who mostly come from "90210" or the WB - are terrible, although they are.

It's not the story's fault, because they are often compelling on paper.

The problem is all the emotion. Or rather, it's because of the overt attempt to show just how much emotion there is in every scene.

While "North Country" is on another level in terms of production value, some of the Lifetime's problems plague the film and hopefully foil any hope Charlize Theron had of winning another Oscar.

Theron stars as Josey Aimes, a woman who takes a job at the local mine after leaving her abusive husband. Her father (Richard Jenkins), also a miner, hardly approves, but Josey just wants to make a decent enough wage to take care of her two kids.

With the encouragement of Glory (Frances McDormand), Josey tries to stick it out at the mine, despite the constant physical, emotional and sexual harassment she and all the women endure.

It only complicates things that she has a history with some of the men she works with, and she's had children out of wedlock.

When Josey starts to speak up, things get worse and her reputation gets damaged around town. Her impressionable son (Thomas Curtis) is one of many close to her who stop supporting her as she makes her complaints more public.

See it
4 out of 10
Rated R
126 Minutes
Warner Bros.

The men smear feces on the walls in their locker room, call them all derogatory names and even ejaculate in their lockers.

Eventually, she files a lawsuit against the mine and has to find a way to get the other women to back her up, although they fear for their jobs.

While it's all inspirational in theory, the script often swings and misses, trying to pack an emotional wallop into dramatic monologues that feel completely lifeless.

Only the film's final courtroom scene succeeds, and even then it all smacks of cliché. Even if it is a true story, we've seen it all before when no one believes the woman in a man's world, despite how right she is.

A number of relationships are closely examined in the film, including Josey and her father, Josey and her son, and Josey and her past.

Josey and her past might be the most compelling, with sporadic flashbacks telling bits and pieces of a significant story from high school.

Still, this doesn't make up for the trite relationships with Josey's father and son that we've seen hundreds of times before. Both are caricatures or stereotypes, and neither can hold their own in a scene with the dynamic Josey.

While many have claimed Theron chose another "ugly" role, she looks pretty good in the movie.

Unfortunately, because it's set in 1989, the film annoyingly reminds us of how bad everyone looked in the '80s, even movie stars.

Ultimately, this is another good acting job for Theron, but a film that's just as messy as "Monster." Hopefully, this time they take the quality of film into account when they hand out the Oscar.