Sunday, June 4, 2023
HomeHollywood NewsRafelson's 'Black Widow' - An '80s Thriller for Grown-Ups

Rafelson’s ‘Black Widow’ – An ’80s Thriller for Grown-Ups


Bob Rafelson’s “Black Widow” (1987) is fashionable movie noir and an undervalued gem about being a vacationer in a single’s personal life.

Fittingly, it principally takes place in Hawaii, the place tourism is the largest trade and a approach for guests to be pleasantly displaced right into a world that’s not their very own.

The central characters of “Black Widow” are Catherine (Theresa Russell), who murders the wealthy males whose wealth she inherits, and Alexandra (Debra Winger), the antsy agent who pursues her.

By following a string of seemingly linked information tales, Alexandra believes the path of wealthy, useless males results in a single girl who has been marrying and killing them. Alexandra goes undercover and befriends Catherine, getting sucked into her intoxicating world.

A minor hit in 1987 and revered, if principally forgotten, by critics, Rafelson’s movie could also be a mainstream web page turner equal however his logos (an existential longing, unstable principal characters and human conduct driven-plot) are throughout this.

The ultimate scene for the character of Shin, performed by the fantastic character actor James Hong, is so painful and terrible to observe. I’ve additionally by no means forgotten the scene the place a diving journey takes a scary flip.

The perfect scenes right here at any time when Winger and Russell get to play off each other. Their characters meet at a diving lesson, the place they’re paired collectively and should observe mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on one another; it’s an intimate and sure, erotic approach of getting these characters lastly meet, as if one have been attempting to soak up the opposite.

By way of Rafelson’s output, that is pretty light-weight in comparison with the highs of “5 Straightforward Items” (1970) and “The King of Marvin Gardens” (1972).

Nonetheless, after the memorable however iffy “The Postman At all times Rings Twice” (1981), that is the far sturdier of Rafelson’s neo noirs.

It’s additionally superior to the following “Blood and Wine” (1998) and “No Good Deed” (although the previous showcases an important pairing in Jack Nicholson and Michael Caine, each taking part in actually despicable figures).

“Black Widow” got here out the identical 12 months as Arthur Penn’s “Lifeless of Winter,” Ridley Scott’s “Somebody to Watch Over Me” and Adrian Lyne’s “Deadly Attraction,” all expertly crafted, adult-minded thrillers with meaty, showcase roles for the feminine leads.

FAST FACT: “Black Widow” screenwriter Ronald Bass beforehand labored as an legal professional. He adopted up the ’80s thriller with “Rain Man,” which earned Bass a Greatest Authentic Screenplay Oscar.

“Black Widow” is a number of build-up, exposition and chopping backwards and forwards between the protagonist and her prey for the primary half and eventually grabs a agency maintain of its viewers as soon as the setting turns to the Huge Island of Hawaii.

Whereas the atmosphere is generally of the interiors of resorts, Rafelson scores large factors for casting the late, terrific Oahu-based Danny Kamekona in the important thing position of a detective and for setting a morality story in such a beautiful atmosphere.

The ultimate scene is each intelligent and too pat. There are much more sensational examples of this kind of thriller, however Rafelson, as targeted on character and contradictory human conduct as ever, makes this smarter and extra trendy than anticipated.

The lighting usually evokes movie noir imagery, although the exploration of how a righteous character is immersed within the life-style of somebody and not using a ethical compass solidifies the movie’s place within the style.

Whereas Terry O’Quinn, Nicol Williamson and Dennis Hopper present shade with their supporting turns, the movie belongs to Winger and Russell. Winger appears to relish such a wealthy half, particularly after her famously sad expertise on “Authorized Eagles” (though she’s terrific in each).

Russell is an eternally underrated performer, whose performances in her late husband Nicolas Roeg’s movies exhibit how fearless and versatile her appearing talents are.

The damaging recreation of discover and seize which these characters play has wealthy layers, as their pairing is initially sister-like, appears to adapt unstated attraction and eventually turns into a merciless race to destroy the opposite.


“Black Widow” (which sadly shares its title with a much more standard Marvel comedian e-book film) may look like a trifle, however Rafelson’s work is all the time value looking for out (sure, even the failed 1992 Jack Nicholson/Ellen Barkin farce, “Man Bother”).

Winger and Russell’s most exceptional work occurred in Nineteen Seventies-Nineties and so they aren’t talked about among the many most significant, danger taking and hanging actresses of the twentieth century, however they have been.

Thrillers have all the time been a style for grownups, which is why the complexities and human messiness of “Black Widow” is so welcome, even at the moment…or particularly at the moment.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments