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WIDOWS

SYNOPSIS:
Set in contemporary Chicago, amidst a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.

Review by Louise Keller:
Violent and hard-hitting, the emotional timbre of Steve McQueen's heist movie is like a piercing scream. While women are integral in the carrying out of the above-mentioned heist to steal $5million dollars, this is no lightweight film in the style of Ocean's Eight: the film's pain and soul is reflected in Viola Davis's expressive eyes. Much of the time they are filled with tears. This is a film about consequences and the resulting actions taken by those most impacted, as ordinary worlds are integrated into a dark, brutal world of thuggery, crime and dirty politics. The heist is not one in which greed plays any part. It is a means for survival. Brutal, powerful and impactful, this is quite a movie.

McQueen and Gone Girl's Gillian Flynn's terrific screenplay (adapted from Lynda La Plant's 80's British crime drama) plays out like a puzzle in which time jumps are used as part of the narrative to build character and provide information and context to the relationships. Lynda La Plant is best known as the writer for the acclaimed series Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren.

The striking opening sequences demand attention. First, there is close-up passion in the bedroom between Veronica (Davis, magnificent) and her husband Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson, well cast). There is no denying the impact of this black and white onscreen sensuality. A scene follows in which crooks in a getaway van meet with an explosive, furious end. The depth of the relationship between Veronica and Harry (as shown in flashbacks throughout) is core to the emotional ballast of the film.

This is a film in which there are many points of difference. Watch carefully to learn why and how everyone fits into place. Elizabeth Debicki is a scene-stealer as the wife-beaten widow who follow's Mum's (Jackie Weaver) advice to use her physical assets (Lukas Haas is effective as the slippery-as-oil real estate executive), while Michelle Rodriguez maintains her sullen look as the widow who discovers her gambler husband has spun the dice on more than his own money. Hairdressing is not the only talent of Cynthia Erivo's Belle, as she is recruited to be the getaway driver.

Then there is Colin Farrell as politician Jack Mulligan, who ishanging onto his seat by his grubby fingernails. The scenes between Farrell and Robert Duvall (as his politician father) are dynamite. Politics is a dirty game. Brian Tyree Henry is scary as Jack's ruthless, crooked competitor Jamal. But nothing compared to Jamal's sadistic brother Jatemme (terrifyingly played by Get Out's Daniel Kaluuya). I cringed during the scene in which he tortures a man in a wheelchair.

I like the way different camera angles are used when revisiting the same event to show a different perspective. Editing is crisp and Hans Zimmer's music adds to the pulse. Listen for a Nina Simone song. It's haunting. The dialogue zings: 'We have a lot of work to do today. Crying is not on the list'.

Revelations keep coming - like a gun with unlimited bullets. By the time the widows are executing the daring plan, we are on the edge of our seats. There is much to consider as the credit roll, but it is Davis's moist eyes that linger in our mind's eye and tug at our heartstrings.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

WIDOWS (MA15+)
(US, 2018)

CAST: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Robert Duvall,

PRODUCER: Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Emile Sherman

DIRECTOR: Steve McQueen

SCRIPT: Steve McQueen, Gillian Flynn (TV drama by Lynda La Plante)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Sean Bobbitt

EDITOR: Joe Walker

MUSIC: Hans Zimmer

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Adam Stockhausen

RUNNING TIME: 128 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 29, 2018







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