Widows (15) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir: Steve McQueen, US 2018, 130 mins

Cast: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson, Daniel Kaluuya, Robert Duvall

Review by Carlie Newman

There are three main things going for this film. Firstly, it is very well directed by Steve McQueen. Secondly, the movie has a terrific cast of mainly women. And lastly, it has an excellent script written by McQueen together with Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl).

Set in Chicago, we are in the midst of criminality today. Only this time we are looking at a different type of crime. After her husband, Harry Rawlins (Liam Neeson), is killed along with other members of his gang during the execution of a violent crime, his widow, Veronica Rawlins (Viola Davis) learns that he owes some gangsters a lot of money, which she is expected to pay. Finding Harry’s notebook with details of the next job he was going to do, she sets about recruiting the other wives of her husband’s dead crew members. They are a formidable trio, Alice (Elizabeth Debicki),who is much more than the dumb blonde she first appears to be and Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), who makes friends with anyone. Later on they are joined by the clever, streetwise Belle (Cynthia Erivo), as their driver.

At the same time the city itself is gearing up for an election. Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), the son of a corrupt politician (played by Robert Duvall) is up against Jamal Manning (Bryan Tyree Henry), who is assisted by his very violent brother, Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya)

Based on the 1983 TV series by Lynda La Plante, director Steve McQueen has successfully transferred the location from London to Chicago. There is lots of excitement and a few unexpected twists.

The main actors are spot on. Viola Davis gives another dramatic performance. She is an excellent actress who has waited a long time to get the kind of parts she deserves. This is a terrific part and Davis grabs it with both hands. She and Liam Neeson form a believable if unusual pair as the mixed race married couple. The other stand-out performance is from Cynthia Erivo, who has muscles and a sharp mind to match. In smaller but telling roles, Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall as his father give good characterisations.

The photography is mostly grey in tone with some unusual shots such as the drive from one poor area to another richer one showing the passing landscape from the inside of the car.

I would have liked more of Liam Neeson – but then, who wouldn’t?