When a secretary's idea is stolen by her boss, she seizes an opportunity to steal it back by pretending she has her boss' job.When a secretary's idea is stolen by her boss, she seizes an opportunity to steal it back by pretending she has her boss' job.When a secretary's idea is stolen by her boss, she seizes an opportunity to steal it back by pretending she has her boss' job.
Written by Kevin Wade, Working Girl is a nice, neatly-constructed story. On a broad level it could be seen a black-and-white tale of good guys and bad guys. But what saves the characters from appearing one-dimensional is that they are written with a great deal of knowing realism. Who hasn't worked for a boss like Sigourney Weaver's character, or been cheated on by a jerk like Alec Baldwin's? One thing that keeps Working Girl engaging is that, while not an out-and-out comedy it is often tentatively funny in the way that real life is funny, such as Alec Baldwin's futile claim that "This isn't what it looks like".
The effectiveness of Working Girl often hinges on the way its characters are projected. On paper, Tess McGill isn't necessarily sympathetic, and neither is Katherine Parker necessarily unpleasant, at least not in the first half of the movie. However, Melanie Griffith portrays the lead with enough drive to appear credible as a go-getter, but all wrapped in a kind of sensitive charm that makes her likable. It's lucky she didn't inherit her mother's steeliness. And Sigourney Weaver manages to convey a smug and patronising manner that is only hinted at in the script, but never quite overdoing it so it is still believable that Griffith initially warms to her. Harrison Ford is at his best too, moulding the role round his limited range by giving a business-world version of his usual level-headed action hero type.
If you're a fan of the look of this era, Working Girl will be a real treat for the eyes – everything from glorious cityscapes to pouffy dresses. I'm glad director Mike Nichols puts such an emphasis on places and props, without loosing sight of the people of course. The changing fashions of the decade are even woven into the movie's themes, as Griffith swaps her hairsprayed bouffant and dangly bangles for an elegant, simple look. Working Girl is an incredibly 80s movie, but it's also the death of 80s extravagance we're witnessing there on screen. Of course, she still wears a pair of pink glasses with rims the size of beermats, but there you go. 80s extravagance died hard.
- Nov 29, 2011