Silkwood (1983)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Docudrama, Social Problem Film  |   Run Time - 128 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Michael Costello

Mike Nichols returned to directing films in 1983 after an eight-year hiatus with this absorbing if diffuse examination of the life of anti-nuke whistleblower Karen Silkwood. Somewhat of a departure from the typical conspiracy thriller treatment of this kind of material, the script develops the story deliberately, making Silkwood's heroism all the more credible. The film explores the dynamics of the relationship of the woman with her housemates, lover Kurt Russell and gay friend Cher, at considerable length. In fact, these characters are so given so much screen time that they sometimes distract from the main events of the story, the radiation contamination of Silkwood and other workers at the Kerr-McGee nuclear plant in Oklahoma. But it's difficult to imagine how it could have been otherwise in a story in which the lead character is basically an unwitting victim of negligence until well into the film. Nichols allowed the acting talents of Russell and Cher, who was nominated for an Academy Award, to flourish here, and Streep, also nominated, added yet another to her gallery of memorable performances.