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Sally Hawkins Makes “Made In Dagenham” Almost Worthwhile

"Made In Dagenham" starring Sally Hawkins.

Sally Hawkins in "Made In Dagenham" (2010)

Made In Dagenham” (Dir. Nigel Cole, 2010)

With her awkward body language and floppy brunette bangs framing a face dominated by an overbite, Sally Hawkins is quite an unlikely movie star.

In her first major role since her acclaimed turn in Mike Leigh’s “Happy-Go-Lucky,” Hawkins plays a fictional strike leader in a story based on the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968.

As the character is an amalgam of a number of different women involved in the factory protest, it’s readily apparent how fictionalized this film is.

Reading the real record of events leaves me with a bad aftertaste. It’s one thing to embellish, but what went down would have more impact if it was less loosely adapted for standard feel-good formatting.

That said, it’s a competently told tale with dead on ‘60s décor, and it contains some ace acting – along with Hawkins there’s the lovably gruff Bob Hoskins as a Union Steward, Geraldine James as Hawkins’ best friend, Richard Schiff (Toby from The West Wing) as a bad guy Ford executive, and Miranda Richardson as Secretary of State Barbara Castle.

But for all its heartfelt passion about the movement fighting for equal pay for women, it’s strangely stiff with several unnecessary scenes that make it feel stretched thin.

Still, the extremely affable Hawkins has a handful of affecting emotional moments that lift the material, and make me rate it slightly higher than I would without them, so audiences may be willing to warm to her plucky determination.

That is if they can make it through the often crazy thick accents – blimey, it seems like British movies more and more need subtitles like every other foreign film.

“Made In Dagenham” is now playing in Raleigh at the Colony Theater, in Cary at the Galaxy Cinema, and the Chelsea Theater in Chapel Hill. Click on the individual theater names for show-times.

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