Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sexual Harassment 101

I've somehow managed to go nearly three years without watching North Country (Niki Caro, 2005), the iron miner sexual harassment drama that somehow netted both Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand Oscar nods that year. I must say that I wish I never had to see this film, not just because it's fucking awful (more on that later), but it's seriously one of the most fucked up movies I've ever seen. I'm not denying that what happened to these women was horrific, because it was, but the way it was represented by Caro and screenwriter Michael Seitzman was alternatively hilarious and ridiculously over the top. Some of the scenarios they presented were straight out of an 8th grade health class "sexual harassment is bad, mmkay?" video (Bobby's dialogue when he traps Theron at the top of that iron chute, Theron's first day of work in the women's locker room) while others just left me disgusted at the stupidity. What kind of morons would possibly think it's okay to tip a portapotty while someone's in it so that all that shit and piss gets all over them? I don't care if the film presents these men as the most vile people since Hitler, that scene just doesn't make sense. And don't even get me started about the stupid scene where Pearson tells his lawyer that she was only hired because she was the smartest woman lawyer he knows and then proceeds to berate her for, just like the women in the mines, not having a sense of humor. Are you fucking kidding me? I highly doubt that a CEO executive would ever talk to rudely and disgustingly towards someone who's supposed to help save him from this class action lawsuit. North Country is so fucked up that it doesn't even present one decent man who stands up for these women. There's no way that there wouldn't be one guy who's like, "Wait a minute. This ain't right." Instead, in this fucked up alternate universe, every single man around is just waiting to write "cunt" in shit on the wall or molest every single woman who walks by and then tell her to take it like a man.

The rest of the movie doesn't fair much better. Charlize Theron is given absolutely nothing interesting or original to do with her character and is only given importance by the subject matter. Everything she is given to do has been done before and better in and Norma Rae, Silkwood and Erin Brockovich. Her praise for this film is only proving to Theron that deglamming is the only way people will respect her as an actress. She needs to find a film where she gets to play a sexy, confident woman with all the talent she showed in Monster and then I will be ready to love her. Frances McDormand had the best role in the film-- and also the baitiest-- but it's her other Minnesotian that we will all remember in 15 years (although I did love her line reading of "fuck you" through that voice box). The screenplay is one of the most atrocious pieces of crap I've ever heard (for all of the above reasons and more). I also hated Theron's son and the way he talks about his mother. I couldn't believe that he would call his mother a whore and say that she's only claiming that she was raped to win the lawsuit. I don't care how pissy you are as a teenager and how much you claim to hate the mother who's never done anything justifiably bad to him, you just don't say that to your mother. Just another stupid situation in a completely stupid film. D+

5 comments:

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Kamikaze Camel said...

haha. Don't you just love spammers.

Anyway, I haven't seen North Country either. It just never interested me. I went to watch it a few months away, but my brother had lent out the DVD of it and never got it back. Aw?

Slayton said...

Good review. I'm a lot more forgiving to this film than you are... it was very OTT at times but I have to respect Charlize for doing what she could when she was basically miscast. Frances McDormand interested me the least - it seemed as though they were trying to fit every single Oscar crutch into one character (accent, spunkiness, disability and/or disease, strength in the face of adversity etc. etc.)

It was actually the smaller roles filled by Richard Jenkins and Jillian Armenante that I was the most interested by.

Dame James Henry said...

KC: It's probably a good thing you got to avoid this film. Although I can't imagine someone going through all the trouble of borrowing this film from someone and then not returning it.

Slayton: I totally agree about McDormand getting all of the Oscar crutches and that's generally unforgivable. I just really love McDormand and think she's a total blast to every film she's in (except Mississippi Burning, that shit is just whack, yo). I think the most interesting performance in North Country, and I can't believe I forgot to mention it, was Michelle Monaghan's. Her scene at the bar when she's hitting on Woody Harrelson was fascinating (why does she keep tossing off these men as gay when they don't act the way she expects?) and, like most of the film, I wish the film had developed her character a little bit more.