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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Silkwood (1983)

A worker (Meryl Streep) at a nuclear facility in Oklahoma suspects that the company's practices of cutting corners and falsifying documents are endangering the health and safety of its workers. When she becomes a union activist, she finds herself unpopular with the company and many of its employees. Inspired by the life of Karen Silkwood, who died under mysterious circumstances amid much speculation that her death in an auto crash was no accident. Directed by Mike Nichols, the screenplay by Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen doesn't attempt to make Silkwood a Joan of Arc like heroine but presents her warts (and there are a lot of warts) and all as a highly flawed and often irritating woman. Like the political films of Costa-Gavras, Nichols doesn't preach at you but instead gives us the message while still entertaining us. Fortunately, the domestic scenes which usually drag a movie like this down are excellent and allows Streep to flesh out Silkwood even more. But it's not all Streep's show, Kurt Russell as her live in boyfriend and Cher as her lesbian roommate have opportunities to create strong characters on their own. The supporting cast is crammed with excellent actors including Craig T. Nelson, Diana Scarwid, Fred Ward, Tess Harper, David Strathairn, Josef Sommer, Ron Silver, Bruce McGill, Will Patton and E. Katherine Kerr.

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