Black Widow Reviews
exceedingly well. Ridiculous? Yes! Over-acted? Yes!
Eyes-glued-to-the-screen good? Yes! Keep in mind that in addition to
directing such dramatic works such as Blood & Wine, Bob Rafelson also
directed The Monkees, so you already know this is someone who
Just imagine....Debra Winger as a frumpy/unattractive closet lesbian
lusting after the object of her obsession....a devastating Theresa
Russell at the pinnacle of her sultry exquisiteness. Think Jane Seymour
in East of Eden, or Lena Olin in Romeo is Bleeding and you get the
picture. Don't expect high-brow storyline here, just sheer fun!
I was hooked by the police procedural, and intrigued by the Theresa Russell character because we know so little about her. Director Bob Rafelson has never done a film quite like this one before and there are some great, unique shots in the beginning that give this thriller a fresh look. Then, at the midway point, the two women meet and the picture becomes much more conventional and ordinary.
The focus comes off Winger, who disappointingly goes from smart and strong to lovesick and boring, and shifts to Russell. She really takes command of the screen, and it's sad to think that her career never really took off after this. The cat-and-mouse elements of the set-up that I enjoyed so much are replaced by more commonplace scenes like the diving sequence where the Justice Department investigator runs out of oxygen. And Winger's smart, independent character falls for the dullest hotel magnate in the country, in the process becoming a lot less interesting. She feels like a different person in the film's third act.
There are a number of good supporting performances, most notably James Hong and an all-too-brief appearance of Dennis Hopper as one of the victims. "Black Widow" has a lot going for it but it looses its way, possibly the result of a studio executive who wanted to to be more commercial. What a shame.
The pacing slows way down in the Hawaii section when the two ladies share a man and skulk around trying to outsmart each other in gorgeous locations. I'm wondering if this man-sharing is some kind of surrogate lesbian encounter? Regular old jealousy alpha-girl power struggle? All part of the black widow's plan? Regardless, it was slow and kind of boring in that section any way you slice it.
And then you've got the ending, which isn't too unsatisfying, only a little contrived. They couldn't very well let Debra Winger rot in jail for a crime she didn't commit, but I wish they could've let the black widow go and not had Debra Winger in jail so they could've had more cat and mouse later, ideally in a crappy '90s made-for-tv sequel starring different actresses--perhaps Valerie Bertinelli and Gail O'Grady. Oh yes! I wish that existed so much!