WIDOWS (2018)

  • Release Date: 16/11/2018
  • Cast: Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Cynthia Erivo.
  • Directed By: Steve McQueen

Harry Rawlings and his team of thieves pull off a job to rip a black politician, Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) who was saving that money to help fuel his political dreams. However, in the act of pulling the robbery, Harry and his team are annihilated, and the money is burnt up too. When Jamal learns about the robbery gone wrong and about Harry’s involvement in it, he comes after all that is left of Harry and his gang. Their Widows. Veronica (Davis), Linda (Rodriguez) and Alice (Debicki) are not only left with fending for themselves after the deaths of their husbands but now also must repay the money that their husband stole from Jamal and his ruthless and psychotic brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya). The only silver lining for the widows is a diary left behind by Harry to his wife Veronica in which he noted down every job he ever pulled and the detailed plans of his forthcoming heists. Veronica, Linda, and Alice now set into motion the next job that Harry had in his diary and plan to use the money to settle their debt with Jamal.

Widows” is not the kind of film that ticks all the boxes that we associate with a typical heist film. There aren’t any elaborate planning sequences. There aren’t scenes where we see the widows sketch out their “modas oparandi”. There isn’t elaborate orchestration of the events on the day of the heist. Frankly speaking, the heist in so many ways takes a back seat to the drama involving the three widows and the problems in their lives. Veronica is targeted by the politician for being the widow of Harry. She finds it increasingly difficult to deal with the situation alone and is left with no option but to get in the help of the other two widows forcefully as they don’t want to be part of the plan to start with. Even Jamal doesn’t know anything about their existence. If one looks closely, one can spot how distraught Veronica is because of what she is doing to the others.

Alice is forced into becoming a sugar-baby by her own mother. A lot of time is spent in building up this track and it is the most haunting of the three tragedies involving the widows. There is something heart wrenching about her whole predicament and even though she is the funniest character in the film, one cannot help but feel bad for her. Linda has to face a tough ordeal of raising up her kids without their father and unable to hold on to her shop. If that was not enough, now she is being bullied into pulling off a job and that just makes matters that much worse for her. There is also a fourth member of the team, Belle (Cynthia Erivo) She is a single mother who is forced to hop between jobs to make ends meet and also save herself from attacks by bullies of her neighborhood. She is playing a Nanny for Linda’s kids when she is roped in by in Linda after the driver in their scheme of things is brutally bumped off by Jatemme.

It’s not just the protagonists who are dramatically developed. Even the bad guys are wonderfully rendered and fleshed out. Colin Farrell plays an heir to a political family that has been ruling a constituency for ages. He is the current successor of the family and is under a lot of pressure to win against Jamal Manning. Farrell is also under constant pressure from his nagging, complaining and abusive father who had been in power in the constituency this far and doesn’t want to see his son lose to a black. Jamal Manning, on the other hand, is a crook and his brother Jatemme is happy with their old lives but Jamal is not willing to live out his remaining days as a criminal. He wants a legit life for himself and he sees his political aspirations as the best means to achieve that. So, when his money, that he plans to use for winning the election, is stolen from him, he is not the least bit amused. The heist portion though limited is done with enough gusto to merit praise. There are some interesting twists and turns towards the end that accentuate the overall thrill factor of the film.

Viola Davis is sensational as Veronica. As I mentioned before, if one looks closely, one can actually feel her disgust with herself for having pulled the other three into a problem that was hers to start with. My point is proved in the final scene of the film that Davis shares with Debicki. This morose that she carries all throughout the film adds so much to her essay and makes her the perfect leader of the pack. Having said that, my favorite of the lot is Debicki as the frail and yet not vain Alice. She is just so likable and her tragedy so heartening that it is hard not to feel for her. The fact that Debicki acts her heart out and gets under the skin of the character only makes her essay that much more affecting.

Michelle Rodriguez plays a character that is exactly the opposite of what we know her for. Yet she does exceedingly well in her essay and makes us believe in her character. Cynthia Erivo looks and feels the part. I loved her straight-faced dialogue delivery. Daniel Kaluuya as the insanely cruel Jatemme instills fear for him in your heart. Kaluuya is an actor who has grown leaps and bounds and maybe its time that Hollywood realized his true potential and gave him better roles. Collin Farrell is engrossing. Liam Neeson is barely there but he does what he does best.

Widows is an engrossing watch not for the heist card that it plays in the trailers but for the dramatic elements and the stellar acts of Debicki, Davis, and Rodriguez. It does have its share of action and thrills but what takes the cake is the brooding acts of the three protagonists that is bound to strike a chord with anyone who is willing to allow the characters to affect them.

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

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