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Silkwood Reviews

Karen Silkwood, a worker at the Kerr-McGee nuclear materials plant in Cimarron, Oklahoma, died in 1974 in a suspect auto accident on her way to meet a New York Times reporter to present evidence she had gathered concerning safety violations at her workplace. Based on that story, SILKWOOD is a sensational expose of big business seen through the eyes of average working people. Meryl Streep, in another brilliant portrayal, is the title character, a tough, hard-drinking woman who lives with her boyfriend (Kurt Russell), and a lesbian friend (an engagingly low-key Cher). In the course of her dull, dangerous job at Kerr-McGee, Silkwood is repeatedly contaminated. She begins to suspect a management cover-up of safety measures violations at the plant, and undertakes to get proof of her suspicions for the union brass in Washington. Though her relationship with her boyfriend deteriorates as she plugs more and more of her energy into her spying, she gathers evidence that she intends to give to the reporter, and heads out for the meeting that never took place. The clear implication is that Silkwood was silenced to prevent her from making trouble for the plant. Mike Nichols, in his first venture into movies since THE FORTUNE (1975), elicited superlative performances from the actors, particularly Streep and stage veteran Sudi Bond.