Viola Davis electrifies the screen in director Steve McQueen’s Widows from 20th Century Fox. Davis portrays Veronica Rawlings a teacher union delegate in Chicago. Veronica’s husband Harry (Liam Neeson), a renowned bank robber, makes the mistakes of robbing crime boss Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), which results in his death, as well his gang. Jamal then decides that Veronica will inherit Harry’s debt, which causes Veronica to seek out the help from the widows of Harry’s crew.
The widows include clothing store owner Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), trophy wife Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and single mother Amanda (Carrie Coon). After initial reservations, Veronica decides not to involve Amanda; instead, Belle (Cynthia Erivo) is brought into the mix to ensure the heist goes off with ease. While the widows plan their heist, they have to avoid Jamal mob brother enforcer Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya).
Widowsis an adaptation of an eighties British primetime show with the same name. Steve McQueen’s script co-written with Gillian Flynn has a real ensemble feel. The screenplay is so good that I wish McQueen & Flynn set up the project as a limited series with a streaming service or cable network so I could spend more time with the characters. The script portrays the woman as down on their luck, willing to do what it takes to get out of the debt. I was able to identify with each woman in the script, and there was never a moment, where I was not too fond of one of the characters. Sometimes in an ensemble heist film, there’s one character who rubs me the wrong way or phones in their performance, Widows avoids this flaw.
Viola Davis is a joy to watch as Veronica and delivers another astonishing performance. Davis, in my opinion, has a natural screen presence. She could read the phone book and find a way to bring emotion out. While after years of working in action flicks, Michelle Rodriguez gets a chance to flex her acting chops. Elizabeth Debicki, whose filmography I wasn’t too familiar with, also makes quite the impression.
Debicki‘s portrayal of Alice is the strongest arc of the four women and also the most nuanced. My favorite performance of the four though would have to be Cynthia Erivo as Belle. While Erivo doesn’t make an appearance until about an hour in the movie, when she does, she commands every scene she has. One of my favorite moments in the film involves Belle going toe to toe with Veronica.
The gentlemen in the cast also get a chance to shine. Brian Tyree Henry and Daniel Kaluuya are excellent as the Manning brothers. The duo brings a menacing yet respectable quality to their performance. Both men should easily consider taking on more villain roles in the future, as they are that good
My one compliant with Widows is the lack of development for some of the widow’s husbands. The husbands of Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Amanda (Carrie Coon) may have a total of 10 lines between them. I would’ve loved to see their relationships fleshed out a bit more.
With its strong acting and a solid script that features a great twist in the third act, Widowsis sure to be in consideration during awards season. I highly recommend making the trip to your local theater for Widows.
Final Grade: B+