LFF 2018 Preview -Opening Night Gala - Widows
Dir: Steve McQueen
Starring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodrigues, Elizabeth Debicki, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Erivo, Robert Duvall, Carrie Coon, Jacki Weaver
Steve McQueen’s Widows is very much a divided movie. On the one hand there’s the source material - a Lynda La Plante TV show from the ‘80s, that could best be described as something of a potboiler. On the other one, there’s McQueen’s desire to use said text as a vehicle to discuss (or at least point towards) everything from abuse, to sexism, to feminism, to racism, to contemporary American politics and its corruption, from #MeToo to Black Lives Matter – oh, and then it’s a heist movie too.
So, it’s certainly ambitious, even if that ambition sometimes feels misplaced or – at worst – grafted on.
When their husbands die in a failed armed robbery, their widows – faced with financial demands from a criminal politician – bond together to complete the heist that Davis’ husband was planning before his demise.
If that was all that McQueen chose to focus on, it has the makings of a grand heist movie. But he clearly has other intentions, thus the crime is barely planned out, the women seem singularly unprepared for the robbery itself – and then suddenly we move into an all out action movie – that is very stylishly handled – but seems like another film altogether.
Before we get there, we have a number of dramatic moments that touch on more political issues and discussions, which often feel out of place with the film as a whole, and heavy handed as often as not.
The cast is terrific though – Davis and Debicki the standouts (alongside a great sweary turn from Duvall) – and McQueen proves himself a more than capable action director, albeit one who is constantly side-tracked by his polemical whims.
It’s often compulsive, but just as often uneven. And ultimately a touch disappointing.
Widows plays the LFF on 10, 11 & 12 October
More info @ www.bfi.org.uk/lff
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