It's time for the Reel of the Week from my list of favorite movies. This week it's 1983's SILKWOOD. It's an engrossing real life who done it, or more of a Did someone do it? I think besides "A CRY IN THE DARK", it is absolutely, for me, one of Meryl Streeps best performances. She portrays Karen Silkwood, a rebellious, passionate & mischievous woman. Someone thought to be the most unlikely person to become a Labor Union Activist. She was employed as a chemical technician for Kerr-McGee, a Uranium Fuel production Company in Oklahoma. Karen was disturbed by safety violations she witnessed while working in the metallography department. She relayed her concerns to the Labor Union & was asked to testify in front of the Atomic Energy Commission, along with her best friend and co-worker Dolly Pellitier. Played with a brilliant lack of selfconsciousness by Cher. Also her live-in lover Drew (Kurt Russell), who is simultaneously devoted to Karen and frustrated by the total abandonment in which she lives her life.
When Ker-McGee gets wind of what they view as collusion with the Labor Union,Karen's life starts to become the terrifying stuff of nightmares.
During a routine exposure check, Karen is found to have been exposed to 400 times the legal limit of plutonium, which fuels supposition as to how this happened. Karen's explanation & Kerr-McGee's are wildly divergent.
Her life from then on becomes a living hell. Her fellow employees & friends are forced to take sides. Her decision to get involved with the labor Union affects everyone she hold dear. Ultimately a very high price is paid by all involved.
SILKWOOD is probably one of the earliest films depicting consequences of becoming a Whistle Blower. The courage it takes to go against the flow of things.
SILKWOOD is a well written, well crafted, taut tale, written by the talented & much missed Nora Ephron.
The mystery surrounding Karen Silkwood remains to this day. Is it a cautionary tale of strength & courage or the stuff of legend.Maybe something in between.