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Based on a true story, Silkwood begins and ends with Karen Silkwood (Meryl Streep) driving along a lonely road in 1974, heading to a meeting with a New York Times reporter to deliver evidence of negligence at the Kerr-McGee Plant in Cimarron, Oklahoma. The balance of the film flashes back to Karen's ribald private life with her lover (Kurt Russell) and her loose-living friends (Cher and Diana Scarwid). This is in contrast to her humdrum job at Kerr-McGee--or it least it was humdrum until Karen and several other employees become contaminated by radiation. The higher-ups want to sweep this… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 70%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The facts it can lay its hands on do not support a politically alarming or dramatically compelling conclusion to the mysteries of this case. Nor do they lead to a very uplifting statement about the motives and character of its central figure."
‑ Richard Schickel, TIME Magazine
"For most of its running time it is so convincing -- and so sure of itself -- that it seems a particular waste when it goes dangerously wrong."
‑ Vincent Canby, New York Times
‑ Cole Smithey,
"Extremely well-acted, powerful story."
‑ Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
"A tragic story, to be sure, but one that deserves better than the shabby treatment afforded it here. Streep is particularly grating."
‑ , Film4
"Silkwood's 'ordinariness' protects her from being labelled a wild-eyed Trot, but that should not be allowed to obscure her courage or the whitewash ladled onto her story after her death."
‑ , Time Out
"Hiding once again behind her accent, hairdo, and mannerisms, [Streep] fails to establish any emotional contact with the audience, a serious problem in a film that depends on audience sympathy for its impact."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"One of Nichols' best films, Silkwood is effective as factual reportage and portrait of working class life (rare sight in Hollywood cinema), with terrific performances by Meryl Streep, as a new type of American heroine, and Cher, as her lesbian roommate"
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"Nichols does a superb job of establishing the mood and atmosphere of this small town..."
‑ David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews
"Wonderful performances steal the show in this film based on the real life of Karen Silkwood."
‑ Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle
"Silkwood is the story of an ordinary woman, hard-working and passionate, funny and screwed-up, who made those people mad simply because she told the truth as she saw it and did what she thought was right."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"Seemingly better suited for a documentary."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Silkwood achieves impressive credentials as a drama of human character, not just as a screed against intolerable public practice."
‑ Nick Davis, Nick's Flick Picks
"Based on the real-life story of Karen Silkwood, this blistering exposť of big business from director Mike Nichols features a brilliant performance by Meryl Streep."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Searing - if manipulative - potboiler that catches Meryl Streep and Cher in peak form."
‑ Jonathan R. Perry, Tyler Morning Telegraph (Texas)
More reviews for Silkwood on Rotten Tomatoes