WIDOWS, THE latest film from British director Steve McQueen, is the last thing I expected from him. In fact when I heard his next project was based on a 1980s TV show, I was slightly concerned.
This is a heist film in the vain of Oceans 11, and quite different from his previous films which dealt with the Northern Irish hunger strikers, American slavery, and sex addiction. However, Widows was a passion project for him and he brought on Gillian Flynn to co-write the script. People have been a bit snobby about Flynn’s writing but she is perfect for a script like this. I actually think adaptations of her work in the past have taken the bite out of her writing. Particularly the Gone Girl screenplay. No sign of that here. Along with Flynn, McQueen has enlisted a stellar cast, including Viola Davis and Liam Neeson.
Widows has an array of different characters, all with their own story, yet never feels bloated, and each character arc feels rewarding. Also, despite being a heist movie, there is very little action. You don’t miss it though. The razor wire script gives you all you need. Tense confrontations and threats are spat from one character to another. Robert Duval for a man in his late eighties must have loved getting such a punchy role; Daniel Kyluha's menacing, sociopathic, gangster, Jetamme, is a revelatory performance. He is so physical and ice cold I did have to look away from some of his interrogations.
Stealing the show however is Elizabeth Dibicki. She stood out in the underrated Man From U.N.C.L.E. and was comfortably the best thing in the otherwise disappointing Great Gatsby remake, so it is great to see her do it in a production worthy of her. To be honest, so many performances are worth commenting on, ithat i would be here all day if I did.
One scene, where the camera stays on the hood of a car, is one of the cleverest scenes I have seen in a mainstream movie in a long time. The car of the politician, Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell ) moves from a poor, run down, area of Chicago (of which he is the alderman ) to his wealthy suburb. While the camera is stuck on the bonnet and we watch the backgrounds change, we hear his true opinion of his constituents. It is such a simple clever way to eavesdrop on a character's internal monologue.
The film is full of these clever little moments. At no point do we have a 'Basil Exposition' pop up to tell us who is who and what is happening now. McQueen respects his audience, making Widows an enjoyable, rewarding, clever, and mature film.