Widows: expect less of a thrilling heist movie, and more of a political drama set to the backdrop of Chicago. While Widows wasn’t what I had hoped for, it was very good nonetheless.
After a heist goes wrong and leaves four women widows, 3 of them, Veronica (Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), and Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), team up to pull off Veronica’s husband’s next job. In need of a driver, with the ones who were initially stolen from awaiting payment (Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry), Belle (Cynthia Erivo), Linda’s babysitter, joins the fold.
What I found interesting about this film was how the story was designed, with it being broken down into separate sub-plots for each character culminating in one larger, overarching story. The three main plots are Veronica’s, Alice’s, and the election between the incumbent Mulligan family (Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell) and Jamal Manning (Henry). While all this is going on, the widows have to perform separate tasks in setting up their heist, leading to a pretty busy movie. And yet, for a movie with a lot going on, it doesn’t move very fast. The movie is never boringly slow, it can thank its unexpected twists and turns and its strong acting for that, but it never reaches that adrenaline-fueled highspeed pace either. Going off the trailer, I figured the movie would reach moments of intensity which would have your eyes glued to the screen because every little thing counted and if you looked away for a second you might miss something- this never happens. Widows is less Den of Thieves, and more drama. There is a heist in the movie, and plenty of the film is dedicated to building up to that heist, but the heist is rather brief; not just is it brief, but it’s underwhelming. It didn’t feel like everything was at stake, at no point did it feel as if everything were going to go bad (it came close to doing so), and the consequences felt minimal afterward. This is similar to how the election plotline ends, in a whimper. The tension between the candidates as election day closes in mounts and mounts, and when it is all said and done, the only resolution we receive is minimal. Widows ends in this primarily satisfying Hollywood way when it could’ve been more twisted or left a bigger imprint on its audience had it gone a more unexpected route. While racial politics are discussed in the film, they are not as deeply explored as they were in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman; they are more subtly imprinted in the dialogue of the film.
Viola Davis becomes an intimidating presence on screen, knocking heads with anyone who questions her motives or ability. However, while presenting a hard-edge attitude in the presence of others, Davis is able to switch gears and prove her character’s vulnerability and emotional distress smoothly. The person who I believed stepped up and surpassed expectations however, was Elizabeth Debicki, who takes a character who could’ve been unlikeable, and turns her into someone we sympathize with through her struggle to gain independence. Daniel Kaluuya is great but goes underused. Along with its acting, the film’s cinematography is also noteworthy; I could tell cinematographer Sean Bobbitt took extra care when framing shots.
Widows may not be a crowd pleaser, but from an acting and technical standpoint is golden. 8/10