Widows review – Steve McQueen delivers an outstanding heist thriller | Thrillers | The Guardian
“our lives are in danger; our husbands are not coming back; we’re alone”. Transposing Lynda La Plante’s groundbreaking television series from 1980s London to present-day Chicago, the latter of 12 years, a slave director, Steve McQueen, is an empowering and electrifying thriller with a spectacular cast.
Co-written by gillian flynn author gillian flynn follows a disparate group of women who are forced to take over from their recently deceased husbands. Smart, gripping, and fiercely emotional (without resorting to sentimentality), Widows is a bouncy delight that seamlessly weaves close-up character studies, mainstream politics, and bold reimagined heist movie riffs.
When Harry Rawlings and his crew are engulfed in flames during a botched job, Harry’s wife Veronica (Viola Davis in Power Form) finds herself owing con man-turned-politician Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) a couple of millions of dollars. Armed only with a notebook in which Harry details her past and future plans, Veronica teams up with the other widows in the gang to stage a heist that could pay off her debts and give them a fresh start. Meanwhile, an increasingly brutal election battle highlights the cracks between Chicago’s penthouses and sidewalks, raising the stakes for this ramshackle group’s first criminal foray.
Just like the characters in the fantastic 1996 thriller by f. Gary Gray, McQueen’s movie heroines are real women juggling everyday hassles (debt, childcare, work, relationships) with their lawless new venture. Michelle Rodriguez cleverly balances herself as a clothing store owner and cute mother, who has yet to discover her own blunt power; elizabeth debicki is abused-wife alice, finding her own voice after a life of submissive servility; And Cynthia Erivo (the best of the recently released Bad Times Royale) is no-nonsense single mom from South Side Belle, who becomes the team’s cunning baby driver.
Planning their heist in the testosterone-fueled environment of a jail adorned with female calendars, the women realize their gender is their secret weapon, declaring “the best thing we have is being who we are.” are… no one thinks we have the balls to pull this off.”
Making excellent use of authentic chicago locations, mcqueen evokes a very modern history of class, race, and religion, where “criminals are like cops,” black lives only matter to a few, and charismatic preachers face both extremes. Emphasizing the fractured nature of this world, cinematographer Sean Bobbitt’s camera descends from luxurious apartments, across elevated railroad tracks, and onto slum streets. In a remarkable long shot, political heir apparent Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) drives in real time from desolate slums to grassy mansions, the camera focusing not on the conversation inside the car but on the shifting world outside, where wealth and poverty are just blocks away the expansive widescreen frame frequently emphasizes the distance between the characters, with faces seen in mirrors and through glass, amid panes of reflected city lights.
hans zimmer’s low-key score is used sparingly at first, subtly emphasizing themes of loneliness while giving way to the vinyl sounds of nina simone’s wild is the wind (a fascinating use of music that evokes memories of the Carey Mulligan’s New York, McQueen’s New York Piece of Shame). As the heist gets underway, the score picks up the pace, providing a throbbing beat that matches the subtly up-tempo beat of Joe Walker’s reliably elegant edition.
But it’s the performances that really make this fly, with a plethora of speaking roles, each perfectly played. Daniel Kaluuya exudes a chilling intensity as Jamal’s brother, Jatemme, glaring at his opponents with murderous intent. Robert Duvall is the face of the old guard, invoking Custer’s last stand with Trump-esque tirades about illegal immigrants and their offspring. Jacki Weaver mixes cuteness with terror as Alice’s mother, Agnieska; Carrie Coon plays things close to her chest like the elusive Amanda; and lukas haas is barely recognizable as the smooth and hollow david.
At the center of it all is Veronica, the hub of Viola Davis, haunted by memories of life with her husband (Liam Neeson), cradling their little white dog like a lost child. Bobbitt’s camera may capture her grieving close-up, but it’s Davis’s silences that speak loudest. in one of the film’s most shocking moments, she hesitates before a closed door, saying nothing but expressing everything. Having won a supporting actress Oscar for hurdles, Davis’ stunning performance deserves to garner the best actress spotlight at the upcoming Academy Awards. yet in a collaborative effort nearly overwhelmed by outstanding work, it seems odd to single out a single item for recognition. To me, that’s the film’s greatest strength.