It took me a long time to see this movie, which may be surprising, given that it's about sexual harrassment and labor rights. There were two big reasons for that. The first was that I thought it would be depressing (and it was); the second was that I thought Charlize Theron would bug me (and she did).
First thing first: I am sick to death of seeing Charlize Theron "uglied up" to play "white trash" characters. While Josie, Theron's character in this film, isn't a serial killer like Eileen Wuornos, and I don't think they had Charlize gain any weight for this role, she's still a woman of a certain class, and watching Theron play women of this class turns my stomach. It feels like a bad, insulting impression. And the northern Minnesota accent she puts on for this one makes it even worse.
That being said, this movie wasn't as bad as it could have been. Above all else, I guess, I like to see stories like this one told, and depressing as it is, I like to see them told the way they are here, without an ending that conflates happiness with winning a lawsuit (a la Erin Brokovich). It's defeating, though, to watch women so mistreated, and realize that even if the lawsuit is won (which, of course, you know it will be, or they wouldn't have made the movie), things aren't really going to change all that much.
The film is dreary and depressing. It gives you the sense of constantly being cold, except for the scenes inside the mill, which give you the sense of being suffocatingly hot. It's hard to watch. And it should be, so I don't hold that against it. At least not as much as I hold Charlize Theron against it. Who the hell decided she was a good folk hero? Good Lord.
Frances McDormand, however, is amazing here as always. Watching her makes me happy. However, watching her play (SPOILER ALERT) a character who is slowly dying is less than thrilling. It is improved by Sean Bean playing her husband, though. More movies should have Sean Bean in them.
So...this is probably a movie you should see, but don't expect to enjoy it. And, if the film isn't depressing enough, keep in mind that the real story is much, much worse.