The Widowmaker is a movie with no sex, no female nudity, no crude language
(the ďfĒ word is never used), no infidelity, no promiscuity, no drugs,
no gratuitous violence, nobodyís brains blown out before your very eyes,
no ludicrous special effects. The question going through my mind was
ďhow did this ever get made?Ē
the answer, we should be gratified that it was made because itís a taut
thriller. Itís a film that
Hollywood used to do so well, and should do more of because it educates
while it entertains. Itís
based on the true story of a Soviet nuclear submarine that encountered
cataclysmic problems in the middle of a voyage in the middle of the Cold
War. It is noteworthy that
this military film, with an almost exclusively male cast, is the result of
the vision and creative efforts of a woman, Kathryn Bigelow, who directed
it with incomparable realism. She
also co-produced with Joni Sighvatsson, Christine Whitaker, and Edward S.
Feldman with Harrison Ford as Executive Producer.
was on board nuclear submarines when I was attorney for Litton Industries
Ingalls Shipyard, and I can say from personal experience that this movie
captures the cramped quarters beautifully. Sure, itís a little roomier than reality, but the way
Bigelow shoots the actors through extreme close-ups and hand held cameras
gives the audience a fairly realistic feeling of the claustrophobic
atmosphere in a nuclear sub.
basis in fact doesnít affect the story telling, which includes a new
Captain (Ford) taking over from the old Captain (Liam Neeson) who remains
on the ship as second in command. The
tension between these two fine actors, and the ways they influence one
another, are well developed. The
acting of the entire cast, and the portrayal of the effects of nuclear
poisoning, are realistic and affecting.
film also presents an indictment of the inefficiencies that were inherent
under Communist rulers, where safety and the individual were sacrificed
for the desired results.
is a two hour-twenty minute movie of tragedy, heroism, and personal
choices that drags only in the last five minutes.
It should have ended before a maudlin, unnecessary terminus.
The only other criticism I have is that the music does not live up
to the quality of the rest of the film.
There is one sequence where the moviemakers have decided that the
background music should be hymnal-like, and it is inappropriate and
my advice; donít read any reviews and donít educate yourself on the
story. Go in as
unknowledgeable as you can. The less you know in advance, the more
youíll enjoy it.
The Widowmaker is a tense, entertaining, well-acted movie.