Time: 110 mins.
Won Academy Award for Best Actress (Field) and Best Song. Nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.
SYNOPSIS: A young single mother and textile worker agrees to help unionize her mill despite the problems and dangers involved.
BOTTOM LINE: Though Field garnered great acclaim for her portrayal of Sybil, made a few years earlier, it's her brilliant performance here that cemented her reputation as a first rate actress. Norma Rae is the role of a lifetime and she makes it one you won't soon forget. Norma is a simple woman who follows her mother's footsteps into a mindless job at the local textile mill. She has little ambition beyond providing for her children, going with the flow since there are really no other options. What happens to her when an outside union rep shows up and recruits her help change her life for the better.
She initally wants nothing to do with Reuben (Liebman) because the mill is her lifeline, her fate tied to its' success. However, when she looks hard at the toll working there has taken on her parents, she decides to fight for the future health and well-being of all the workers, who have no other options for survival. Her transformation from immature doormat to independant woman is profound and subtlely done. What makes the film so enticing is that Norma doesn't go on to bigger and better things. She uses her newfound self-respect and knowledge to make her world a safer place. She's an ordinary woman who finds the courage to stand up for what is right despite the obstacles and trouble it wreaks in her personal life. It's an inspirational tale told in a realistic way, never preachy or strident. Just good old powerful storytelling made better by an inspired performance.