Widows stars Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, and is directed by Steve McQueen, director of the award winning 12 Years a Slave. Widows is also written by Gillian Flynn, an experienced writer known for her thrillers such as Gone Girl and Sharp Objects. Widows is yet another heist film in which the main protagonists are all female, like Ocean’s 8, released earlier this year. Even though they may have similar plotlines, both about a group of women teaming up to steal something, Widows is fundamentally different than Ocean’s 8 in the way it treats the characters and plot of the movie.
Widows begins with a very memorable scene involving Liam Neeson and Viola Davis; then with almost no warning, the movie thrusts you into the action as you watch Veronica’s (Davis), Linda’s (Rodriguez), and Alice’s (Debicki) husbands all are killed, and the three women become, as stated in the title, become widows. Right away you can see how well McQueen directs action, such as long takes from inside of a van in a chase, not choppy quick cuts seen in many of today’s action movies. The sound is also very well done with no music and just the pang of gun shots off metal and the scraping of car doors. Shortly after this scene we are introduced to the main antagonist of the film, Jatemme Manning, played spectacularly by Daniel Kaluuya. In summary, Veronica’s husband, Harry, stole money from Manning and his brother, and they now want it back. Though Manning could just come off as a normal thug, Kaluuya plays him with a swagger behavior that makes him seem very menacing. This creates a sense of direness for Veronica and the other widows, as it seems like Manning will go to the extent to kill them if he doesn’t get his money back. This leads to Veronica, Linda, and Alice teaming up to pull off one of Harry’s future jobs to pay back the Manning brothers.
Although the plot of this movie is pretty straight forward and ultimately satisfying, Flynn tries to throw in some twists and turns, like the ones displayed in Gone Girl. Some of the subplots, the main one involving a Colin Farrell as a politician running against the other Manning brother, never really get a good resolution. The main characters however, especially Alice, have good arcs throughout the film. Elizabeth Debicki has made a career in Hollywood by being the pretty, perfect girl. Contrastly in this film Debicki shows she has a wide dramatic range and she realistically pulls off her role as a young woman suddenly having to fend for herself after her husband died.
Personally, I think this where Widows shines and Ocean’s 8 falls short; it’s all about the characters. Widows’ characters, at least the main ones, are all fully fleshed out and seem realistic. Instead of robbing something pretty feminine, jewelry in Ocean’s 8, the women plan to just rob plain cash. All the women in this movie are strong, independent women, learning to cope with their lives once their criminal husbands are out of the picture. Overall, Widows was a very enjoyable time at the theatre, filled with twists and turns along the way. Although not everything worked out for everyone, in the end, the characters and McQueen’s incredible directing shone brightly throughout the film.