Working Girl

Dir: Mike Nichols, 1988


Considered one of the true classics of eighties cinema, Working Girl is a true throwback to a time when greed was good, technology was primitive and fashion was scary.

At the height of her game, Melanie Griffith plays Tess McGill; an intelligent and ambitious go-getter, struggling to find employers that realise her potential.

After insulting her boss (Oliver Platt), Tess moves to another form, headed by the strong and independent Katherine Parker (Sigourney Weaver).

Tess relates an idea she has to Katherine but is informed that it wouldn’t work. Unaware to Tess, Katherine steals the idea and pitches it to her important boyfriend, Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford).

After Katherine breaks her leg, Tess is required look after Katherine’s affairs and happens upon the betrayal so sets out to execute her idea and claim the recognition she deserves, while falling in love with Trainer.

Working Girl is a product of eighties indulgence. A time in cinema when women’s rights were promoted but, on the flip side, patronising in the depiction that women needed the love of a man to be complete or their whole being is meaningless.

However, the film is supposed to be a comedy but falls flat. Griffith doesn’t, and has never had, star appeal and cannot carry the movie or the character. Her ability for humour falls way below the desired level of expertise and is, merely, annoying. There’s no love for the character and is difficult to empathise.

Weaver is on her usual fine form stealing the film from under the noses of the rest of the cast. Working Girl is a wonderful example of how diverse an actress she is. Brilliant as the sneaky and Machiavellian boss, Weaver should have had top billing and makes the film more interesting than it actually is.

Surprisingly, however, is Harrison Ford’s laid back acting style as the love interest. As Indiana Jones or Han Solo, Ford dominated the screen with a strong presence and, underrated, comic timing. Blade Runner showed Hollywood his true potential for the range of different roles that he can adapt to. Despite receiving the lead role, Ford cannot bring to life his character, Jack. It must be said, though, that it isn’t entirely Ford’s fault. Jack Trainer is a rather dull character and any actor would struggle in making Jack affable.

A chick flick at heart, Working Girl is a rallying cry for women who have been subjugated and passed over for far too long.

On that note, the film deserves some merit.


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