Can a Strong Cast Carry Any Story?: ‘Widows’ Film Review
As award season approaches and nominations are being announced, I’m taking a look back at a film I saw that is sure to be talked about whether it be because of nominations and or snubs. That film is Widows, directed by Steve McQueen (Shame, 12 Years a Slave). McQueen and Gillam Flynn (Gone Girl) teamed up on the screenplay. Widows is a story about Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) and a group of women who meet for the first time after their husbands die while on a heist to keep their livelihoods. Rawlings is at the helm as her husband, played by Liam Neeson, was the mastermind behind their husbands’ criminal group and the one his recent enemies are mainly after.
The film starts off a bit slow, setting the stage with a heist gone wrong and Veronica having to deal with the threat of Jamal Manning, played by the talented Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta, Hotel Artemis). Henry has been securing his coin with a number of roles that have displayed his versatile talent this year. The equality talented Daniel Kaluuya plays his menacing younger brother. The pair definitely delivered in the film as the Manning brothers try to win Jamal an election and get what belongs to them back from Veronica.
In this film, Viola was her usual amazing self and many times her character reminded me of her role as Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder. Both characters boss folks around to get things done but also display a deep range of emotion. I loved the way she was able to bring together all of the women from all different backgrounds even if it was with threats. Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo rounded out a group that had so many interesting dynamics.
It was satisfying seeing Elizabeth’s character, Alice, go from a woman getting slapped around by everyone to a woman who could stand up for herself. I definitely wasn’t expecting her to snap back at Viola’s Veronica, literally. While I love Cynthia and definitely enjoyed her character she felt like she didn’t quite fit into the heist team because of the emotional distance she had from the events and people that started all of the drama. I wish she had a deeper motivation to get involved with them rather than following the lady she babysits for into a job that could get her killed.
While Michelle originally turned down the role of Linda, I’m glad she ended up being in the film. She’s talented and I loved the Fast & Furious films when I was younger so seeing her spread her wings a bit in this role was nice. She’s done a lot of pure action films, so seeing her in this film made me want to see her in more roles like this.
Overall, it was a good film with an amazingly talented cast but at times felt like it was taking too long for the ladies to get to the actual heist and when it happened, it went by quickly. I enjoyed the flashbacks and learning about Veronica’s past, but would have liked more balance between all of the women’s stories. The cast definitely carried this story that could have been told with better pacing and a few character tweaks and improvements.
I’m giving Widows an 8 out of 10.
Kira McCall covers entertainment for MFST. She’s a freelance writer and alum of Towson University where she studied advertising, public relations, and creative writing. Follow her on Twitter at cocovanilla45 (GirlsofManyFandoms) and kiramira_.
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