Sally Hawkins and her plucky overbite will not be denied. This much, at least, we should know by now.
Rita's transition from mild-mannered machinist to equal pay spokesperson is but one of what feels like several shortcuts taken by writer Ivory and director Nigel Cole (Calendar Girls). It happens quickly. In one scene, Rita is rendered speechless by the arrogant school teacher who she suspects of bullying her son. In the next, she's drafted to represent the women at union negotiations. She takes on that role at the encouragement of Albert, but also because her co-worker Eileen (Nicola Duffett) is at "sixes and sevens," tending to her husband, George, who's "touched," presumably from the Second World War. The effect on George from his wife's need to fight and the rift it causes between she and Rita, like so much else in the script, betrays a clumsy construction that too often pokes through the pretty sixties wallpaper of the story. It's a device to create tension, making the eventual reconciliation between the two women all the more satisfying.
In addition to the welcome bookending of Desmond Dekker tunes, the Made in Dagenham soundtrack is varied and a bit less predictable than the film to which it occasionally plays juke box. Perhaps its just a matter of Beatles and Stones songs being too expensive to license. But among good period tunes like "Friday on My Mind" (The Easybeats) and "With a Girl Like You," (The Troggs), the inclusion of two Sandy Shaw songs is particuarly apt. Ms. Shaw,unfortunately little known in this country, is something of a legend in her native Britain. Her version of the Bacharach/David classic, "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me," featured on the soundtrack, went to #1 in Britain in 1964. She also sings "Made in Dagenham," written for the film by Billy Bragg. Ms. Shaw actually worked in the Dagenham Ford Plant before turning to music. Dubbed "The Diva of Dagenham," she came to symbolize the swinging 60's in London, also picking up the description, "the barefoot pop princess of the 1960's." Even if you choose not to take the ultimately happy ride that is Made in Dagenham, check out Sandie Shaw.
Here are two videos. One is her 1964 #1. The other is a vesion of The Smiths "Hand in Glove," which she performs with the band. Morrissey has long been one of Sandie Shaw's more fervent admirers.