Working Girl (1988) Directed by Mike Nichols. With Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin and Joan Cusack.
With an array of Academy Award nominations bestowed upon on it, including three nods in acting categories and one for Best Picture, Mike Nichols’ Wall Street-based romantic-comedy, Working Girl, is a film with a reputation to live up to.
The film opens soulfully, with Carly Simon’s Oscar-winning song, Let the River Run, playing to a helicopter establishing shot of Manhattan, gradually swooping in on a Staten Island Ferry, which carries the cargo of our lead character, Tess McGill, as played by Melanie Griffith.
The overall plot is about getting ahead in business, no matter what. It’s like Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, nudged gently into chick-flick territory. In the lead role Melanie Griffith is a curious presence…and I’m not just talking about her hair. Her delivery is, dare I say, a touch dopey. It’s not a bad performance, it’s just an unusual style. Even now, I’m struggling to decide if it works to the films credit or detriment. On the other hand, Sigourney Weaver firmly nails her role as Griffith’s rapacious boss, Katharine Parker. What’s more, it’s refreshing to see a film released in the 1980’s, portraying women as equals to men in terms of the 9-5 hustle of working city life.
Billed as a romantic comedy, oddly, the film features little in the way of either. The presence of Harrison Ford always guarantees a high degree of star quality, but the absence of much wit or satire makes for a restrained experience. As the plot moves forward, attempts to indulge romantic elements are too half-hearted to gain our genuine investment. There’s nothing terrible about Working Girl, but aside from some solid performances, it is a fairly predictable, by-the-numbers shift. 3/5