Steve McQueen has been an impressive directorial force for modern cinema, whether it’s through his exploration of sexual addiction in Shame or of slavery in 12 Years a Slave. Now, he’s exploring corruption, deceit and female empowerment in Widows, a stylistically impressive film that’s generated by a strong script from Gillian Flynn and a dynamite cast. Thematically, Widows is a film about individual women, whose lives have been defined by their husbands’ actions for better or worse, trying to move on from traumatic events within a broken, corrupted society. McQueen tackles so many complex themes of race relations, politics, sexism, infidelity and ownership within this heist drama, but he makes them engaging to watch, and that’s one of this film’s greatest strengths.
McQueen also explores how divided America is, showing two different sides of the spectrum, between those who mistreat power and wealth and those of feel they deserve it. It’s through this that the central women of the film begin to take back control of their lives, completely reassess what their marriages were actually built on and what they should do about that. The pacing and tension of Widows is as tight-as-a-vice, going from calm and collected scenes to sudden bursts of violence and oppression. Despite dark and serious tone, Flynn gives the protagonists a lot of sharp and witty dialogue with subtle humour added for good measure.
Another of this film’s biggest strengths is its ensemble cast; Viola Davis is simply commanding as the lead widow of the piece, displaying a hardened exterior to block out all of the underlying emotional pain she’s suppressing. The rest of the cast provide solid support with Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Erivo adding more dramatic weight to the team of widows, while Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Brian Tyree Henry and especially Daniel Kaluuya bring a lot of complexity to their respective villainous roles.
Widows is an intelligent, thought-provoking heist drama that delivers well-defined characters, a stellar ensemble cast, a superbly written script, tight direction and a visceral sense of pace, all of which is woven together with extreme confidence and precision by Steve McQueen. This film came and went without so much as a mention during the awards season, but this film still stands on its own as one of the best films in its genre, as well as one of the best films to be released in 2018.
Dir: Steve McQueen
Scr: Gillian Flynn
Cast: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Carrie Coon, Robert Duvall, Liam Neeson
Prd: Steve McQueen, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Arnon Milchan
DOP: Sean Bobbitt
Music: Hans Zimmer
Country: UK, US
Run time: 130 mins
Widows is out now on Digital, Blu-Ray and DVD.