“The tampon store is that way.”

By far the biggest problem with Made in Dagenham is that it is in English. Mikael Niemi, my new favorite author (look him up!), describes England as a damp nation of couch potatoes where the language is so lazy that "tongues slop around in their mouths like sliced-off foreskins." Only about 60 percent of words said in this movie are intelligible as words. Thankfully, when making an important point, the camera swoops in and focuses on Rita O'Grady's (Sally Hawkins) neck muscles, which torque her voice up an octave as she proclaims something extremely urgent about rights! Equal rights! And Monty (Kenneth Cranham), that jowly bastard, casts his gaze downward in self-conscious defeat. This is conceptually okay, but unfortunately it's handled with big meat gauntlets. I'm fine with the occasional sojourn through the era of politics in which lots of very important things happened, but when a director goes there, it's easy to come off preachy.

I'll explain: Dagenham is about (female!) industrial textile laborers in the 1960s who spring out of the Ford Dagenham plant to demand equal pay for equal work. O'Grady, unwilling saint of the working class, rallies her ladies from the factory floor to varying levels of strike crisis, which is tricky when the union doesn't support you (because you're an aggregate of ladies) and your husband doesn't support you (but it's okay, he comes around in the end, and on a sexy moped! Rowr!). Point of the story: Everyone loves righting obvious wrongs, but director Nigel Cole illustrates sexism with all the delicacy of a yeti. Oxford-educated intellectual women functioning as human coatracks, for instance. Funny, yes; subtle, no.

But oh man, the cinematography transforms the story into a clean and prismatic little extravaganza. I still want to restyle my everything in the airline beige and muted teal of Dagenham. Clever little metonymic shots reduce people to their shoes, their hands, their tools, which gender them inside the home and on the factory floor. Those shots alone make the film worth watching, but Dagenham just tries so hard elsewhere that it drives me away. What I'd really like is a film about yeti rights. Yeti rights! At least then there would be subtitles. recommended