Alexandra is a FBI Investigator who is hot on the trail of what she believes is a deadly killer. She believes that all of the deceased millionaires' in recent memory got that way because of one woman, a deadly widow responsible for taking all their money. We learn early on that Alexandra's woman is Catherine, who goes from millionaire to millionaire, poisoning these men in untraceable ways and collecting the inheritance. While Alexandra has no doubts about Catherine, her department heads believe that Alexandra's findings are without merit, simply declaring her as obsessed and in need of a break. Bob Rafelson's Black Widow is a fun, sexy, and engaging psychological thriller that ultimately works because of skilled direction and two great central performance. The film is told in a very Film noir-type style, following both Alexandra and Catharine individually. Both these characters are very well developed and defined. Alexandra, our protagonist is tough as nails on the outside, yet shows glimpses of fragility. She is a woman whose desire to prove Catharine's true intentions border on obsession with it becoming more and more clear that she is desperate to prove herself. Catherine on the other hand is a diabolical vixen, played perfectly by Theresa Russell, who really showcases this characters ability to go from sweet, to seductive, to deadly, all at the drop of a hat. When the two finally do collide with one and other the viewer is given a nice cat-and-mouse game, ultimately showing how similar these two characters actually are. They are much more similar than one is led to believe, both being fragile yet driven by their obsessions. For Catherine, her greed for money and security drives her and with Alexandra it's her desire for a better job and notoriety. These characters are relateable with merely different ideals of morality. Bob Rafelson's direction is simplistic but assured, with quite a few nice compositions throughout. The real treat though is in the aesthetic, which uses green hues and expressive lighting to symbolize the greed that exists in both of these characters. Black Widow does feel somewhat dated, but the film is loaded with interesting subtext and great performances, making it a strong psychological thriller.
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