North Country (Niki Caro). 123 minutes. Opens Friday (October 21). For venues and times, see Movies, page 102. Rating: NNNN
If North Country is to be believed, northern Minnesota in 1989 was a place where the phrase "sexual harassment" seemed part of a foreign language.
But the landmark class-action sexual harassment case on which the film is based, Jenson v. Eveleth Mines, began in 1975, when the horrors depicted here are more likely to have occurred.
Charlize Theron delivers a more nuanced performance than her Oscar-winning turn as killer Aileen Wuornos. She plays Josey Aimes, a single mother who goes to work in the mine that employs her father ( Richard Jenkins ). There, she faces increasingly degrading attacks on her character that culminate in a physical assault. Her closest friend, Glory (the magnificent Frances McDormand ), is a union member and all-round ass-kicker.
The film's told in flashback as Josey recounts her story during the lawsuit she launches against her employer.
Most of the cast (Theron, Sean Bean , Woody Harrelson , Sissy Spacek ) are from somewhere other than Minnesota, and find it hard to hide their accents.
The film has its share of cheese, and some scenes require a winch to suspend your disbelief.
But you can't be unmoved by the deprivations these women went through, and any woman who sees this film will thank god she's lived to see better days.