This drama is based on the true story of Karen Silkwood (Meryl Streep), who works at a nuclear facility, who was purposefully contaminated, psychologically tortured and possibly murdered to prevent her from exposing blatant worker safety violations at the plant.
One of Nichols' best films, Silkwood is effective as factual reportage and portrait of working class life (rare sight in Hollywood cinema), with terrific performances by Meryl Streep, as a new type of American heroine, and Cher, as her lesbian roommate
The facts it can lay its hands on do not support a politically alarming or dramatically compelling conclusion to the mysteries of this case. Nor do they lead to a very uplifting statement about the motives and character of its central figure.
Silkwood is the story of an ordinary woman, hard-working and passionate, funny and screwed-up, who made those people mad simply because she told the truth as she saw it and did what she thought was right.
The film seems... unconvincing when it tries to argue the case of Silkwood's martyrdom, but it soars magnificently when it confines itself to the drama of one woman's courage in renouncing complacency for action.
Extraordinary portrayals of everyday people characterize the contribution of director Mike Nichols' talented diverse cast. Once again, Nichols justifies his past plaudits for bringing the best out of his players.