Directed by Mike Nichols • With Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell and Cher
Based on true life events surrounding the life of nuclear power plant whistle-blower, Karen Silkwood, Mike Nichols’s Texas-set drama is host to a trio of fine performances, headed up by Meryl Streep in the title role.
Working from a screenplay co-written by Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen, the script pin-pricks the gritty feeling of the surroundings and locations with good moments of humour. Meryl Streep is engaging, portraying a strong, yet anxious woman fighting back against her employers’ surreptitious disregard for health and safety.
Given the subject matter, Nichols ensures each environment has the tinge of poison. Streep, Kurt Russell and Cher all smoke their way through the film, lighting up in cars, in bed, at work. Meanwhile, Russell guzzles cans of beer, while Cher keeps a steady stock of stale food in the fridge. All this before we’ve even started talking about plutonium exposure.
On a wider note, the film takes a hefty swipe at corporations and big business, in the way it depicts employees as expendable assets. On a smaller scale, it’s a sad window into the world of three people caught up in a situation with which we can all sympathise. Nichols’s direction is steady and unfussy, keeping the focus of his lens on Streep throughout. Recommendation enough.