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When a heist film isn't really a heist film


Director Steve McQueen, famous for 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Shame (2011), brings a remake of the 1983 British miniseries Widows to the big screen.

The original ran for two six-part series' in 1983 and 1985 and the movie retains much of the original miniseries plot, including a few twists and turns. However, if you think that having that story condensed down into one feature film will cause this to feel rushed or lacking in detail, that is certainly not the case.

This film has a slow-burning plot, taking a long time to introduce the characters and build the momentum into the storyline. However, whilst this film is billed as a heist film, this is in no way an Ocean's 11 style montage of clever people tricking rich people out of money.

Some people will find this film a little hard to get through. The film isn't trying to entertain you in a Saturday night out at the movies kind of way. It doesn't throw humour at you or much action for that matter. There's no bubbly banter between our female characters. This film presents the heist as difficult and unglamorous. Our characters are not perfect and are fully aware of what they are doing. Whilst we sympathise the most with our lead female character, played by Viola Davis, she was married to a murderous criminal and whilst she didn't know all the details of what he did, she certainly knew what he was doing and was happy to enjoy the lifestyle it provided. She doesn't really ask you to sympathise with her either by the way.

The film presents a gritty look at the world, with our characters trying to get by whilst swimming in a sea of dirty politics, corruption, racism, sexism, and the worst aspects of capitalism. Our female leads are left in a difficult situation after their criminal husbands all end up dead during a heist gone wrong, and to compound problems further, criminals are now targeting them and it's up to the women to band together and try to make a solution of their own. Whilst on its surface, this storyline feels as though it will be a movie filled with a lot of 'you go girl' moments, the realism of the film and the focus on character keeps the film grounded firmly in the darkest aspects of the storyline.

This film to me felt more like a 1970s film, than a 2018 one. There is little music in the film, despite being scored by the great Han Zimmer, and the way the film pieces scenes together felt in some ways, like The French Connection. The 129 minute run time feels closer to 140 minutes and the film remains with you long after you leave the cinema, regardless of how you felt about it. It's not an easy film to make a decision on regarding liking it or disliking it. Rather, the film is just what the film is. Take it or leave it.

The film presents violence in sudden, brutal, and unstylish ways. The heist is fairly simplistic in nature, as it avoids typical Hollywood clichés. The conclusion of the film is muted, almost surprising you when the credits roll.

The performances are all fantastic. Viola Davis, known for The Help (2011), Fences (2016) and Suicide Squad (2016), is always a tough character and she carries this film very well, showing true strength, yet bringing out the underlying frailty of the character as she stands up to bad men and a bad system. She is well supported by Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo, with each woman bringing something different for each member of team. Collin Farrell, Robert Duvall and Daniel Kaluuya provide a variety of unpleasant male characters clinging to power, with Kaluuya particularly effective. Liam Neeson pops up from time to time and has a few nice moments here and there. But Davis is really the star of the film and gives a performance worthy of a nomination in the near future.

Widows won't be in cinemas for long, as the sea of blockbusters fill many of the screens at mainstream cinemas. If you find yourself needing a break from the current fashionable movie making style, then give Widows a chance and revisit a style of film making that has been largely forgotten in recent times.



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