Widows is about three widows of a crew of thieves. With their backs against the wall and their husband's debt to pay, they and a babysitter, desperate for her own way out, attempt to pull off a heist to get out from under it all. The film is written by Gillian Flynn and Steve McQueen and directed by Steve McQueen. It stars, well, it would be easier to say which heavy hitters don't make an appearance in the film, but I'll stick with the incredible leading women, Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo.
I say the leads are incredible, but really every single actor is just superb. All of them are able to shine in their own ways. Everyone gets scenes they can really sink their teeth into. There isn't a one dimensional character in the bunch, each one has multiple facets and depth. It's a credit to the wonderful script.
So many ideas or templates move to television now, but this is a story based on a couple of TV miniseries' that really shines as a compact film. What Flynn and McQueen are able to do with the plot is astounding because even condensed to a two hour run time, this film feels complete in a way many films do not. I couldn't catch my breath when it crackles and I held it as it simmers.
McQueen's visual panache is on full display whether its in the immaculate and modern penthouse apartment or the pinup laden, grungy walls of the warehouse hideout. He's able to bring all of Chicago's neighborhoods and people into the mix. I know it's cliche, but Chicago really is a character in itself in this film, influencing every other characters actions and moods, their choices and their existence. McQueen understands that about the city and uses it to his advantage.
My favorite shot of the whole film is one you may miss if you don't catch on right away or you've never seen a city so culturally and economically divided. To start, Colin Farrell's Jack Mulligan and his aide/mistress Siobhan are leaving a rally. While they continue to argue about a reporter, then about so much more, the camera stays outside. It stays on the front of the car and watches the businesses and homes to the left. Homes and businesses that are run down, graffitied and of a low status, but as the car makes a turn, so does the camera and we see the large mansions that dot the other side, the fences, the lush green gardens and the expensive cars. There's no trick, no CGI, just an honest depiction of what life is like on both sides of the ward Jack Mulligan claims to want to improve. Conditions his father and grandfather before him ignored to line their pockets.
Widows will keep you guessing even as it shows the clues. There are plenty of twists, setbacks, double crosses, and heart pounding sequences. None more heart pounding than when the menacing Jatemme, played by Daniel Kaluuya is on screen. I wasn't sure about Kaluuya's abilities to pull it off, but his mere presence evokes a fear and knowledge that something awful is about to happen.
I love a lyrical, symbolic, slow burn of a thriller and if you like that kind of film you'll enjoy this Widows. It's a film so dense and the robbery aspect while it has ripples throughout, is just apart of the dense narrative about interracial couples, politics, police violence, graft, corruption, and economic inequality.