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10th December
written by Mad Cow

Rated R for violence, language throughout, and some sexual content/nudity

Mad Cow’s Rating:

Steve McQueen

Widows is one of the best films I’ve seen all year and it’s a shame that the Golden Globes didn’t give it the merest nod. Directed by Steve McQueen and written by McQueen and none other than Gillian Flynn of Gone Girl fame, it stars Viola Davis, who is fierce. The story, based on a British TV show of the same name, is about four women whose criminal husbands are killed during a heist and leave them nothing. They find the details of another planned theft and go for it. I expected four compatible women getting together not only to get the money but to show that they can do as well as the men, something like Ocean’s 12, which I loved. But it’s not like that.

Viola Davis and Cynthia Enrivo

The film is complicated. Events are confounded by the goings on of Veronica’s (Davis) husband Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson) and two men running for Alderman, Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) and Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell). The women don’t know each other and Veronica has to find and recruit them not only to do the job but to do research that will flesh out the skeletal plan. The women she tries to recruit, Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Amanda (Carrie Coon), and, reluctantly, Belle (Cynthia Erivo) are a diverse bunch to say the least.

Veronica is ferocious and bossy to the annoyance of her compatriots, who are always on the edge of rebellion. There are hints that Veronica knew what her husband was up to, but maybe not. She is pressured to pay back a debt Harry “owes” Jamal. Meanwhile, Jack is pressured by his dad Tom Mulligan (Robert Duvall) not to be the first to lose to a Black man (not said so politely in the film).  Jack is sick of being in politics but in fact both sides are dirty. Veronica needs to know a lot more before she can proceed.

Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki

Close attention is demanded of the viewer but it’s not hard to give as one suspenseful scene, enhanced by the excellent music, leads to another. Yet all the while the main characters are fleshed out. Numerous moments add depth, such as the fact that Veronica in all of her ferocity, brings her little dog Olivia with her everywhere, clearly needing the comfort she provides. Back stories and bits and pieces of people’s lives that in other movies might be left on the cutting room floor, enrich the film.

We get to see that Veronica loved her husband, that Belle desperately needs the money she would be paid to be their driver, that Linda lost her gift shop because of her husband’s debts, and, tellingly, what happened to Harry and Veronica’s son. Ann Mitchell, as Alice’s mother, tells us a lot about Alice’s life as an abused wife. Perhaps best of all, and here there is a resemblance to “anything you can do I can do better,” the women use feminine wits to get the information they need for the heist.

The movie is interesting and includes an element of fun as we see the plans evolve. To the last minute, almost nothing in the movie is inevitable as things twist and turn. It’s all good. Forget the snub by the Globes. See this movie.

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