Film of the Week: Working Girl (1988)

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Mike Nichols directs Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver in this comedy of a working class secretary who takes over her untrustworthy boss’ office when her proposal might become lost in the shuffle, business and romantic complications ensue. 

I have introduced my wife to many, many movies over the years. I can proudly say she now loves Die Hard and likes Adam Sandler and I’ll just have to accept I’m never going to win on neither Predator nor Michael Caine. But one film she has opened my eyes to was Working Girl. I must have watched it and dismissed it in my teens as just another average yuppie romantic comedy… but after many watches over the past few years the perfection of its witty screenplay, the unparalleled beauty of the New York location shoot and Nichol’s magisterial harnessing of three stars’ illuminating power (plus Joan Cusack) have almost completely turned me around on it. Nichols has always been a cold and glossy, sometimes even snide, observer of messy modern sexual politics (see The Graduate, Carnal Knowledge, Wolf or Closer) but here he injects warmth and glamour into the interplay of career advancement hungry assistants and redundancy fearing investment brokers. The equally sexy Griffith and Ford have great chemistry together, both showing previously untapped wells of vulnerability, while Weaver walks off with it in a falsely flouncy yet mischievously hard as nail turn as the villian. Working Girl is still a little too adult and a little too barbed a fantasy at times to truly seduce romantically like say When Harry Met Sally… but as a heroic triumph of a grafter over the privileged it warms the cockles endlessly. Get caught up in it and you’ll be punching the air with a tear in your eye and grin on your face by the final, deftly extravagant shot. And Carly Simon’s theme song is an absolute banger.

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