Getting a little too comfy at the Derby Odeon Luxe cinema I found myself at the 9pm viewing of the newest Steve McQueen effort. A 9pm viewing?! On a school night? I felt insane, I felt like I could very easily drift off but Steve being the great guy he is, made sure that wouldn’t happen.
Widows follows a group of women left with debt after their husbands are killed in a raid gone wrong. Now, with a month to find $2 million, Viola Davis aims to bring together the only women that know what she’s going through, for a one time only score to settle the debt.
The tone and scene are set meticulously and rapidly – within the first 10 minutes we realise the ultimatum and are given a glimpse into the volatility of the world their husbands found themselves in.
Daniel Kaluuya puts in yet another PERFORMANCE as Jatemme, the genuinely terrifying brother of an equally terrifying Jamal Manning (played by the breakout Paperboy from FX’s Atlanta, Brian Tyree Henry) who is campaigning to be his district’s Alderman in the face of Colin Farrell’s nepotistic Jack Mulligan. Kaluuya is playing the right-hand man character we’ve seen before but he takes it to the level where his unpredictable yet calm persona puts you on edge – he’s not simply a lap dog for his brother, he’s rogue, smart and meticulous with a maniacally serene way of conducting business.
The widows find themselves embroiled in Chicago politics, with the wealth spread shown for its true self in this city which has a strange, but all too revealing shot, taking Jack Mulligan from the run-down areas of the South Side to his sprawling home in a couple of minutes. The use of real time truly shows the disparity in America and emphasises the fine line between the American Made and the systemically broken.
Using her husband’s notes, Davis looks to bring in her fellow widows to do the final job and get out of the mess they’re in and this is where it drags on. McQueen finds himself in a directorial spot, he wants to keep the pace and make it fast and exciting but also realistic that the widows go from amateurs to a seamless heist act – he’s meticulous in making sure it’s seen how they make the transition and the lengths they go to. It takes the majority of the film, sure, but what would have been a 6-minute montage in the film of a lesser director, is a show of great filmmaking, finding a near perfect balance of realism while only slowing the pace just a little.
You feel when the night comes, the widows know what they’re doing. They’re ready, the character arcs are so well-crafted you know these widows are going to get the job done, or do you? Or does McQueen have you still sat on the same edge of your seat that Kaluuya had put you on earlier? Of course he does.
Widows is a great film. The widows themselves, plus Cynthia Erivo are impressive and bring together a feeling of fear and anger in visceral performances across the board. Kaluuya put in a performance that made me want him to be in every scene but simultaneity wished he wasn’t – my nerves couldn’t take it.
Go see Widows. It’s a heist movie in the trailer but in reality so, so much more. 4/5 flicks.
Audience rating: A shambles. If you come to the cinema just shut up, Christ alive. What’s wrong with you?!
Moment I didn’t need: Liam Neeson seemingly trying to fit Viola Davis’s entire face in his mouth in the first minute.
Absolute star: Great ensemble cast the Davis and Kaluuya Oscar buzz should be as standard from now on. They’re incredible forces on the screen. Michelle Rodriguez is still impressive and Erivo, having stolen my heart during Bad Times at the El Royale is back at it again.