Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.
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"Widows" is the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica (Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.Written by
Twentieth Century Fox
Caught Widows at TIFF this month and I can tell after watching that this is going to be an Oscar favourite next year. After a group of criminals dye in a heist gone wrong, their widows, Veronica, Alice and Linda, are forced to collect the money to repay their husband's debt. From there the women have to find their individual strength to survive especially when most of the men in their world are either cut-throat criminals or corrupt politicians. And that is just the basics of Widows. This story has far more to tell when you look at it under the surface.
Widows is thematically about how people move on and rebuild themselves in a broken society. The core group of women have had their lives be defined by their husbands' actions for better or for worse. From sexism, race relations, entitled privileges, politics to infidelity, director Steve McQueen is exploring so many of these subjects in his heist thriller. In less capable hands, so many of these themes and messages could feel force-fed and overbearing but McQueen makes them engaging in every single scene he shoots. Scenes will cut from calm, quiet moments to establish the nature of the widow's late marriages to sudden bursts of violence, action and tension to get your heart racing. Along with shots filled with dark and cool, light color palettes, McQueen shows on screen how divided the world is between those who feel they deserve wealth and power and those are mistreated by it. And through this divided perception, the women begin to take ownership of their lives and reassess what their marriages were really built on.
While Widows is a thematically dark and serious story, Gone Girl author-turned-screenwriter Gillian Flynn gives the characters a lot of subtle humour and sharp witted dialogue that actually makes the film surprisingly fun to watch. And to its credit that Flynn, along with McQueen as the co-writer, gives so many of these characters, especially the star women, unique layers that makes no one feel like a blank slate.
While it is an ensemble piece, Viola Davis is definitely the most awards-worthy to watch. As the lead widow Veronica, Davis brings so much to her character without even having to say a word. Davis displays this feeling that Veronica has to build a wall to block the emotional pain she is suppressing in order to keep the other widows in line for the upcoming heist. But once in moments when she is alone, you see Davis unleash that emotions very suddenly and then very quickly go back into being a commanding presence. Michelle Rodriguez gets a break from the usual action films to show dramatic range in her character Linda. While I wouldn't call it a break-out, it establishes that Rodriguez can play more then just the usual action heroine. Collin Farrell also does great bringing complexity to the corrupt politician Jack Mulligan who is seeking to escape his cruel father's legacy. But Widows is also filled with a lot of surprising stand-outs in terms of acting performances. Elizabeth Debicki does a lot with her character Alice that could have been one-note. Debicki shows Alice go on a transformation from a young, frail socially-dependant housewife to a character that is done being mistreated and seen as vulnerable. While Cynthia Erivo doesn't show up until late in the film, she makes a very strong impression once she joins the crew. And Brian Tyler Henry and Daniel Kaluuya bring a lot to their villain roles. Henry is calm, confident but also intimidating as the kingpin-turning-politician Jamal Manning, particularly in a scene with Davis. However it is Kaluuya as Jamal's brother Jatemme, who is just absolutely terrifying. With just a stare, Kaluuya'c character makes you feel small and scared knowing what horrible things he will do next. The one thing I will criticize is that I felt both Jon Bernthal and Carrie Coon were both underutilized in their roles.
Widows has a lot going on in its two-hour runtime and there some plot twists that make it feel a little incoherent but does very little to impact the film's near perfect quality. Widows is a film that is one of the most thrilling of this year and still has a very compelling and ambitious story that McQueen and Flynn have put on screen.
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