Monday, 11 September 2017

Black Widow

It is astonishing to think that this engaging thriller is over thirty years old. Today is the anniversary of its release in the Republic of Ireland, seven months after its US release. It is also surprising that it was not taken up by cinema chains in England and Wales. (I caught up with it on TV and enjoy watching it again on its occasional re-runs.) Perhaps the fact that both leads are female or that some starry names played victims discouraged 1980s screen buyers with Victorian attitudes.

In my opinion, neither Winger nor Russell have been better. The plot construction is great. The writing is subtle and on occasions witty. I like the fact that we are told nothing about the background of investigator or investigated. Both seem to have come from nowhere. There is a delicious scene early on where Winger's character spins her FBI boss a tall description of her unhappy childhood before letting him down with a bump. The poster describes the movie as an erotic thriller, but most of the sex is in the head. There is a hint - no more than a hint - of a lesbian interest when the two leads meet for the first time. The only clunky business in the film is when Winger gives Russell a brooch in the shape of the black widow of the title. Feminists forgive me, but I also enjoyed the contrast between the opening when Winger is like one of the lads in a poker game in an office with painted-over windows and the ending when she skips into the sunlight in a pretty floral dress.

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