North Country - Monster Returns

Duration: 123min
Category: drama
Available: On DVD
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Okay. I admit it. Charlize Theron is a real actress.

After a series of really bad performances (Reindeer Games anyone?) I had her pegged for a pretty face with no talent. Then along came Monster and even before her Oscar win, I had to admit that she gave one hell of a performance. But was it a fluke?

If it was a fluke, then North Country is fluke number two.

North Country is the Norma Rea-ish inspirational story of a Minnesota female mine worker who, after facing terrible humiliation and harassment, and the humiliation and harassment of her fellow female minors, takes on the company and (Iím not really spoiling anything for anyone) wins.

And Charlize is pretty good. She even does the Minnesota accent without sounding Fargo silly.

The film is pretty good too. The director gets some mighty pretty scenery out of the Minnesota winter and astonishingly the mine itself. Also, the film, while a bit on the Home Makeover sloppy side, is fairly inspiring and moving.

Much of this has to do with the fine performances of the entire cast. Besides Charlize there are great turns by Sissy Spacek, Sean Bean, Richard Jenkins and Francis McDormand who keeps the potential hamminess of her handicapped character in check.

The film does walk the line between being too schmaltzy and finding the right note to make a good message movie. It almost falls into the syrupy pit a few times but always manages to pull itself out again.

About 10 years ago Theron emerged soon after Ashley Judd who had the same eye brows and gorgeous smile. If you had asked me at the time who would turn out to be the Oscar winning actress and who would turn out to be the hack who starred in cheesy female-victim-revenge-fantasies, I would have got it backwards.

Ashley, I am so disappointed in you. And good on you Charlize.

Review By: Collin Smith

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