Sally Hawkins makes Made in Dagenham

A brazen leading lady saves this predictable plot.

An account of the 1968 strike by female workers at a Ford plant that led to Britain’s passage of equal pay legislation, Made In Dagenham rarely strays from the “inspirational story” playbook. It’s got a plucky heroine (Sally Hawkins) spearheading an unimpeachably just cause---in this case, wages based on work rather than gender---against some irredeemably slimy villains, represented here by the one-note chauvinists in charge of Ford. It’s got fight-the-power speeches, moments of comic relief and detours into capital-D drama. It’s got almost no surprises and its characters are mostly superficial archetypes. But because it’s got Hawkins, whose renders Rita O’Grady with equal parts toughness and vulnerability, and because of the aforementioned righteousness of the plant workers’ cause, the movie is impossible to root against.

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