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Film Review – Sins Of The Husbands, Visited Upon The ‘Widows’

Viola Davis, left, and Elizabeth Debicki in "Widows."
Viola Davis, left, and Elizabeth Debicki in "Widows."

Posted Monday, November 26, 2018 - 1:16 pm

By Adam Sherman

Crime dramas – heist films in particular – tend to be mostly male-focused. Its men who are the ringleaders, men who are the targets, men who pull off the heists, etc. Heist films are normally celebrations of testosterone whether hot-blooded and hammy, or stoic and serious. Women are usually, at best, minor accomplices, and at worst, helpless victims on the outside looking in.

In light of #MeToo, that’s gradually changing. Earlier this summer, we had Ocean’s 8, with Sandra Bullock – playing the sister of the previous trilogy’s lead, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) – orchestrating an eight-woman heist from an art museum. While that film was considered rather lukewarm from a critical perspective, it was a major financial success, demonstrating that there was indeed an audience for female-ensemble crime dramas. And thus we come to Widows, directed by Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) and co-written by him and Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl). Can this more mature outing succeed where Ocean’s 8 faltered?

Absolutely.

When her husband Harry (Liam Neeson) is killed alongside his partners during a heist gone wrong, Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) finds herself threatened by the crime boss he stole from, Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry). Upon discovering plans for her late husband’s next heist – said to be worth $5 million – Veronica opts to put together her own team to pull it off, consisting of two of the partners’ widows (Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki) and one of their babysitters (Cynthia Erivo).

The film is fantastically-paced, incredibly well-acted and well-written. Davis shines as Veronica, displaying both heartbreak and steel in equal measure in the light of horrific tragedy. Michelle Rodriguez gets a chance to show a softer side than most theatergoers might be used to seeing. Elizabeth Debicki is the best of the trio, gradually transforming from a meek victim of family both before and after the heist-gone-wrong, into someone who is ready and able to finally take control of her life.

The rest of the acting is solid overall, and outside of a few confusing bits near the end, the film is excellent. It has not been doing too hot at the box office this weekend, so see it while you still can.

9/10

Widows is distributed by 20th Century Fox.

 

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