Wednesday, July 6, 2016

HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT: Working Girl


This week on Hit me with your best shot, we went back to the 1980s with the Mike Nichols film "Working Girl", the readers' choice from the recent poll at The Film Experience. When it was announced as the winner, Nathaniel was understandably surprised by this atypical choice (especially considering the more visually expressive competition). But this gloriously dated time capsule (the hair! the clothes! the music!) still offered much to look at in its examination of workplace politics through its main characters, played by Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver and Harrison Ford.

And what fascinating characters they are. I can imagine Melanie Griffith's performance being more divisive, especially when compared with the awe-inspiring confidence and effortless radiance of Sigourney Weaver. But she plays the part so well, perfectly tapping in to the despair of being "so close, yet so far" from your dreams.

Throughout the film, cinematographer Michael Balhaus does a great job in highlighting the difference in the personalities between the two women. Weaver always manages to "pop" within each frame, while Griffith often seems to blend in. It's particularly noticeable towards the end of the film, as even during the height of Griffith's reinvention as a successful woman, she immediately feels like a pretender when Weaver returns.

In spite of the great shot compositions towards the big climax however, I still came back to a scene from earlier in the film.

Click below for my favourite shot...


My pick for Best Shot captures that "80s-ness" that I love in the film. The hair, the accentuated shoulders, the smoke, Melanie Griffith's dramatic face. It's a pivotal scene which precedes Tess' transformation and you can certainly sense that change coming. But what's interesting is that Griffith's performance is far more subtle than this scene would suggest. Her rising confidence and comfort in her own skin is much more gradual and realistic than you'd expect from the direction. She never loses sight of her naturally demure self, which makes her payoff at the end all the more satisfying.

1 comment:

  1. LOVE this shot, although I had a bit of a different take on Tess's character than you...

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