TIFF 18: ‘Widows’ Boasts Twists and Turns, a Master Class in Directing by Steve McQueen, and Astounding Characters That You Must See – Review
Based on the television series of the same name, there are many elements of Widows that will please movie-goers. From top-notch acting from its entire cast and a story that definitely warrants the audience to keep their wits about themselves, Widows is definitely a must-see, as well as (hopefully) an award season contender.
The story begins with a heist gone wrong. Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson) and his partners Florek Gunner (Jon Bernthal), Jimmy Nunn (Coburn Goss) and Carlos Perelli (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) are leaving the scene of their last crime. Having little to no time, Rawlings and his crew need to escape but during the botched attempted robbery, the entire crew is killed in action. This leaves the widows of the fallen men to pick up the pieces of their shattered families, while keeping their own lives together. Only, it’s not that simple – the $2 million dollars that was last stolen was from Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), a crime boss and politician, and his brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya), who will stop at nothing to see that all of their missing funds are returned.
While Rawlings’ wife, Veronica (Viola Davis) is mourning the loss of her husband, Manning takes it upon himself to threaten her and make sure she knows that he needs his money and if she doesn’t provide, there will be severe consequences. So, when Veronica finds the plans from her husband’s next job, she contacts the other widows Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and someone to be their driver, Belle (Cynthia Erivo). With a crew in place, the four begin the preparation and planning to get back the money their husbands stole from Manning. An epic game of deceit, action and twists quickly ensues, so to anyone who is watching the film, be sure to buckle up for the ride.
Now, heist films have existed for a long time, but there’s never been anything quite like Steve McQueen’s latest, Widows. From a screenplay by McQueen and Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, Sharp Objects), Widows is much more than your typical heist drama. It turns the genre on its head with its thoughtfulness, character building and twists you certainly never expected. There is a lot going on in Widows (which I won’t reveal for fear of spoiling things for anyone), and many intersecting storylines that are hard to predict or anticipate, but it never feels too busy or incohesive. The script does a great job in making sure every single moment flowed effortlessly and the cast easily added to the film’s greatness as a whole.
With such thrilling writing, the team of Widows also managed to assemble and all-star cast comprised of Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Daniel Kaluuya, Brian Tyree Henry, Colin Farrell, Cynthia Erivo, Michelle Rodriguez and Robert Duvall. Each and every single actor plays their character well, and despite the film’s stakes, each person is perfectly believable in their various roles (no matter how big or small). Davis is perfect as the grieving Veronica Rawlings. She will not be held back by fear or sadness, instead opting to tackle the predicament she now finds herself in head on. The moments she shares on-screen with Neeson are palpable and you can really see the love the two are meant to share.
Davis’ chemistry goes beyond just her on-screen husband and filters to her new group of friends, played by Debicki, Erivo and Rodriguez. All of the women in the film work well together and seem to bring out the best of one another. It’s hard to take your eyes off the quartet when they share scenes together, but the standout, was most definitely Debicki. Debicki holds her own with Davis and also has the most screen time, after her Oscar-winning costar and truly shines in her role as Alice. Kaluuya was another standout for me while I watched the film. He is the villain, and while he doesn’t often say too much, he’s still eerily terrifying regardless – there are some scenes with Kaluuya that will leave you shaken, further proving his acting prowess.
Most definitely one of the best films of the year, Widows is not only successful because of its great script, but it boasts an all-star cast that plays each of their roles to perfection.
Be sure to check out one of the smartest films of the year when Widows hits theaters on November 16.