The movie North Country featured Josey Aimes, the woman with two kids who only wanted to make life better and happier for her family. After leaving her abusive husband, she found a job as hairdresser. But learning that working in the local mine could pay her good enough, she applied for it not knowing the prejudices and negations received by women miners. As days passed by in her life as a miner, she started to notice the dominance of the clan of Adam in that part of the country.
Everyday, she could hear sexist jokes, and disrespectful comments from male coworkers, she began to outrage turning herself the object of hate, but at the same time, of lust. She later found out that the women in her hometown were so scared to come out of their shell… that nobody even wanted to stand by her side. With the help of a local lawyer, she filed for a sexual harassment case against her workplace, when she was nearly raped.
The movie opened with a big bang of emotions and scenarios that continuously built the excitement of any viewer to follow the journeys and decisions made by the female protagonist. Events like going away from her husband, getting inside the manly world of mining, and being the herculean woman amidst the fangs and stings of men, kept true to the philosophy of Niki Caro – women empowerment, like the Whale Rider. The director was able to present the powerhouse impact of the scenes attributed to a community enveloped in discrimination against women. Charlize Theron played the protagonist woman and added merits to her credentials.
North Country was based on the case filed and won by Lois Jensen against the Eveleth Mines. It took over two decades before the charge was settled. Indeed, she made history by changing the course of sexual harassment law in the United States of America. The lawsuit created rooms for the rights of women against sexual harassment, discrimination and other negative actions towards women in the workplace.
With three children to give a decent life, she asked her lawyer to help her get a work. She later found her career in researching about the case of water pollution and sickness among the children in a small town. She then excavated that the cause was the toxic wastes dumped by the huge company in the area. The worse part was that the company was trying to hide it from investigations. The company was so powerful that it could just make her dead in the records, but she was not stopped by this.
She went an extra mile just to expose the truth. But she is not your ordinary good girl, smart employee in the office. She had skeletons in her closets, too. She usually left her children with her biker boyfriend, acting like she was not the mother. Dressed like a whore, she made Erin Brokovich heroine in a small town when she brought down a deep-pocketed company.
Steven Soderbergh directed this film with wit and passion. He maximized the potentials, including the natural sexiness, of Julia Roberts, who played the role so effectively in return. This might have driven the female part of the audience crazy of desiring to be like Erin in their worlds. Every woman wanted to be the new modern woman, dressing casually but could carry the world when asked to. This is like a refresher movie of what Roberts was in the Pretty Woman, the role that made her the highest-paid and the most sought-after actress in Hollywood.
The movie was based on the story of Erin Brokovich who helped the burdened community win over the Pacific Gas & Electric Company. She did not have the looks or appearance of a lawyer. But she managed to go on her way to help in the success of the largest settlement for a direct lawsuit ever. This clearly shows that if you have done something bad, it will haunt you no matter where you are and what status you belong. Moreover, no matter how good you are in hiding or covering your wrongdoings, the issue itself could find itself in the surface.
A Civil Action
A community struck with something that made the people vulnerable to skin rashes, and a leukemia outbreak among the youth, was finally put to limelight when they start to take their fate against two big corporations. The residents wanted someone to apologize for the death of their children. Their need for someone to defend them came at the right time for the firm of Jan Schlichtmann, who chose cases they believe they could get to success. Usually, their clients were poor, putting a pro-people and pro-justice on their image. But in his mind and heart, the lawyer was hoping for large settlement money. As they were getting through the lawsuit, the firm was also continuously sinking below the line of bankruptcy.
The movie was based on the primary accounts of Jonathan Harr during the proceedings. This embedded the movie inside the courtroom. Stories about the Woburn victims were set aside for the presentation of what really happened inside the hearing of the case. John Travolta gave justice to the character of Schlichtmann, as being the ambitious lawyer, who wanted to nail down WR & Grace and Beatrice Foods, for a substantial amount of money. He also made a mistake when he was carried with the story of one of the victims. Robert Duvall, who played the antagonist Jerome Facher, also made a great effort in his role as the lawyer of one of the companies involved in the issue.
Environmental crime is probably one of the celebrated cases in the history of man. This is because different sectors participate in the deliberation of points, trying to sound pro-environment. Oftentimes, big industrial companies are usually the subjects. Justice has its price, goes the tagline of the movie that peeked through the climax of the movie wherein the victims got a whopping amount of settlement money. This shows the negative attachments of the judicial system of the country. It made clear that money could have the power to break the shield of morality, humanity, and most of all, love.
Caro, N (dir). 2005. North Country. USA: Warner Bros. Pictures.
Soderbergh, S (dir). 2000. Erin Brokovich. USA: Jersey Films.
Zaillian, S (dir). 1998. A Civil Action. USA: Touchstone Pictures.