Widows – Film Review by Frank L.
Director: Steve McQueen
Writers: Gillian Flynn (screenplay by), Steve McQueen (screenplay by)
Stars: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki
Steve McQueen follows his highly acclaimed “Twelve Years a Slave” 2015 with an unlikely heist story. The conspirators are a group of widows. The principal mover and shaker is Veronica (Viola Davis) who has been left in deep trouble by the death of her husband Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson), who was a professional criminal who died in a robbery which went wrong, along with his three accomplices. When he died he owed a cool two million dollars to one Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), a local strong man who had earmarked the cash for his upcoming election campaign. He needs that money and intends to get it back and sees Veronica as the source! Harry was, luckily for her, an unusual criminal in that he kept a detailed notebook of his successful activities and included in his notebook were details for his next “job”. Veronica needs the money so the notebook gives her the outline of a plan.
Inspired by Lynda La Plante’s television crime series “Widows” (1985 and 1987), McQueen and Gillian Flynn have developed this tale. The four widows all need money for a variety of reasons. They are Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Amanda (Carrie Coon). The four of them have very different pasts, including their ethnic origins but they combine together to show that women have “balls”, to quote Veronica when it comes to carrying out a big ticket crime. The male counter balance, apart from Rawlings and Manning, is provided by Tom Mulligan (Robert Duvall) and his son Jack (Colin Farrell), a nasty pair of corrupt politicians who control electorally the part of Chicago where Manning is running as a candidate.
There are many joys in this film, not least the stellar acting performances of the entire cast led by the magnificent performance of Viola Davis. Her performance must put her in line for the Best Actress Oscar. She has already won the best supporting actress award for Fences (2017). The film is also a likely candidate for the Best Film Oscar.
The film operates on many, many levels. Given this multiplicity it probably should be seen more than once. You can muse on how well it is made and also its handling of so many relevant social issues.