Led by Rita O'Grady
(Sally Hawkins), the plant's band of all-female sewing machinists walks out in protest of their unfair pay.
In a meeting with Ford
pulls some leather swatches out of her
handbag and demonstrates how they fit together, how none of the seamstresses use patterns.
makes a convincing argument without even mentioning the unethical premise of wage discrepancies between men and women.
, our heroine, is the least voluptuous of the bunch.
, like her
fellow factory workers, spends the film steeling herself against unjust men.
There's a lot of lip-quivering and almost-crying.
When the strike comes into focus, her
family life suffers.
son watches too much TV.
daughter's pigtails are left to the hands of her
cartoonishly incapable husband, Eddie.
runs out of laundered shirts.
The side-plots are where the real sacrifices are revealed: Rita's
only-just-saved marriage, her
coworker's hesitation at getting involved with the cause (she doesn't want to neglect her
sick husband), the bitter words from men at the factory whose salary is being held for the "mere principle" of equal pay.
When Rita goes to meet Secretary Castle, she wears a flouncy, red dress from Biba, a popular London department store.
The frippery is borrowed from Monica, the wife of a Ford
executive, who despite reading history at Cambridge, is treated like a fool by her
and Monica's incomes don't align, their ethics do.
The friendship is another one of the film's productive, complicating subplots; Monica is an exception to the otherwise all-working class cast, and her
support makes the struggle seem larger, more political, less personal.