Review / ‘Widows’ (MA) *** and a half

Viola Davis and Liam Neeson in “Widows”.

YOU could find satisfaction in American filmmaker Steve McQueen’s thriller crime caper because of its tensions and conflicts.

Derived from three British TV mini-series by Lynda La Plante beginning in 1982, the last in 2002, its fiendishly and, therefore, enjoyably complex structure delivers significant energy. But the wise eye will look deeper and discover that McQueen has done more with it than merely telling a story that could work in any metropolis.

Setting it in Chicago, McQueen has overlaid and underpinned the drama with a collection of parables for 21st century America. Racial conflict, political corruption in an upcoming local government election, consumption both conspicuous and wasteful, family feuding, female empowerment and abuse of public office – their messages are muted but not hard to recognise.

The technical faults don’t need listing – the wise eye will possibly detect them, the less-wise eye can enjoy the drama without worrying about them. A large ensemble cast does a solid job of developing the plot across deliberate fault lines.

Viola Davis plays Ronnie, wealthy, black, widowed when a four-man caper managed by her husband Harry (Liam Neeson)all die in a shootout with the cops after a big heist. With a lifestyle to feed, Ronnie is what you might call miffed when Harry doesn’t come home with a backpack full of big bills. And that’s where the film gets its real impetus. The plot gets convoluted, the tensions begin to inflate, the pressures increase from all directions.

Ronnie has a plan, built from her knowledge that Harry never staged a heist without meticulous planning. Find Harry’s last unexecuted plan. Recruit three acolytes (played by Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Erivo) each with a reason to get even for the deaths of their husbands and foiled expectations of seven-digit wealth. Get cracking on doing what their men failed to achieve.

It’s 129 minutes of entertaining cinema, demanding careful attention to its entanglement of dramatic threads.

At all cinemas

Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep citynews.com.au free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Previous articleReview / ‘The Children Act’ (M) *** and a half
Next articleDrone enquiry wants input  
Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

Leave a Reply