After a three-week hiatus, I was back at the movies. I was planning on seeing Crimes of Grindelwald, but the subpar reviews put me off. Given it was a sequel, I was also concerned of a drop-off in quality from the original. So, without Newt Scamander, what’s there to watch? Well, there’s Widows of course. Let’s go through the shopping list. Good reviews? Check. Award-winning director? Check. Formidable cast? Check. Standalone film? Check. Highly original story? Check. As you can see, it ticks a lot of boxes.
My buddy, Nick, saw the trailer of Widows during our last outing (Bad Times at the El Royale). He said it ‘looks good’. I must admit that I was intrigued myself. As mentioned, the plot was quite different: four widows left with nothing but the debt of their late husbands. They must work together, against all odds, to undertake a heist that would make or break their future. Author Gillian Flynn and British director Steve McQueen co-wrote the script. You may remember Flynn from her work in Gone Girl, which was adapted from her novel.
McQueen, helmer of Twelve years a slave, assembles a top-notch cast. From Oscar-winner Viola Davis to Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson to Michelle Rodriguez, the ensemble troupe is very capable. Not only do they look fearsome on paper, but they give really inspired on-screen performances. Viola Davis is a standout as a mean widow, a very strong-willed one at that. She has to rally from personal tragedies and dodges depraved politicians along the way. She has her back against the wall, her husband dead, her debt having a thirty-day window. Colin Farrell likewise gives a spirited portrayal of a third-generation politico battling his own demons. Racial tensions abound. A hired gunman, which Daniel Kaluuya plays, is out for blood. The mercilessness of the system shocks the widows. Soon they place all their bets on the solitary heist, and the body count rises.
There are some idiosyncrasies in the film, stylistic peculiarities that we noticed. First was the scene where Colin heads to the car with his wife after a confrontation with a reporter. Throughout the car ride, the angle is not within the vehicle, but outside. Nick reckoned it was a departure from the norm, making the viewer feel as outsiders. Another interesting bit was the accents. I didn’t realise that the Brits were so well represented, until Nicky told me that the director was British. Let’s see: Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, and Cynthia Orivo, were all Poms. What’s more: they sported American accents. Jeff, my chiropractor, said that the British could do pretty good Yankee accents, but not vice-versa. Colin Farrell, in particular, did a flawless Chicago accent according to Nick. There was no hint of the Irish twang. Belle (Cynthia Orivo) was my favourite character in this picture. She is tough without being overbearing like Viola, and can be counted on despite her many priorities. I learned that she was also in Bad Times.
The film per se was quite stylish. While viewing, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Gone Girl, which I saw at the cinemas two years ago. Here the roles are reversed. While the latter involved a husband looking for his wife, this one featured a wife seeking her lost hubby. Meanwhile, some scenes were more shocking than Gone Girl, which was relatively tame. The visuals, as mentioned, were very stylish, no doubt contributing to its ‘Certified Fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Definitely worth a look. All in all, I am happy with my choice. Specifically, I’m glad I picked this over Grindelwald.