Swing Shift is perhaps more noteworthy for its offscreen dramas (including rumored dissension between star Goldie Hawn and director Jonathan Demme, not to mention the start of the long term relationship between Hawn and Kurt Russell) than for anything onscreen. While not without charm, there's a tentativeness and a lack of focus to Swing Shift that negates its impact, leaving the viewer feeling somehow cheated -- as if he had been promised a nice full meal but instead was delivered a tasty but rather insubstantial snack. Much of the problem lays with the screenplay; it wants to tell two separate stories, one dealing with women entering the workforce during World War II and the changes that wrought, and one detailing a simple, basic love story. Unfortunately, the two strands never weave together in the appropriate way, possibly because at least five different writers were brought in to patch the screenplay together. Swing Shift eventually emerges as a thin study of several characters, but those characters are not given enough depth to carry the film, despite fine performances by the cast. Christine Lahti is especially good, giving a finely-nuanced and carefully detailed performance that gathers in impact, but Hawn, Russell and Ed Harris are all solid. Demme's work is okay, but it lacks punch and spirit; he would be back in top form for his next film, Stop Making Sense.
by Craig Butler review