This woman’s work

‘Widows’ lights up the screen with fiery action and tense drama

By on December 4, 2018

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox Press Kit
She stands in front of the mirror, dressed in black. A wail of pain cries out of her mouth. Not one that is cut from a physical cloth but from a visceral one. It’s only for a second. It’s the kind of cry that is so painful it struggles to come out. It’s not long before the woman composes herself, hiding her pain away as so many women in her position are forced to do, as she proceeds to prepare for a funeral.

That woman is Veronica Rawlings, played by an exceptional Viola Davis, who has just lost her husband, Henry Rawlings, who is a criminal for a living. But his long reign of criminal activity has come to an end, as Henry and his cohorts have died in a violent shootout-explosion with the police. Veronica and the wives of Henry’s partners are now widows forced to face the struggles that their husbands have left behind for them.

The reality of their struggles becomes clear when Veronica receives a visit from Jatemme Manning, an associate of Jamal Manning, who is running for the position of alderman for a Chicago south side precinct. Apparently the money that was stolen belonged to Manning. Manning faces challenges of his own with campaigning for a position that has long been held by Manning’s opponent, the Mulligan family political dynasty. Veronica is given a time frame to find a way to return the stolen money to Manning or else things will end badly for her.

Veronica in her staunch wisdom realizes she cannot complete this task on her own and she enlists the help of the widows of Henry’s criminal partners to complete a job to steal money from the Mulligan family that Henry left behind in a notebook.

“Widows” begins as a slow burn, allowing the characterization to settle in. But once the movie begins to roll, the story speeds along. The characters that are conjured up by Gillian Flynn and Steve McQueen are complex figures that act as chess pieces in an overarching story of surviving. Surviving abuse, grief, oppression, poverty and most importantly the survival of women against the patriarchy. These women have been under the control of the men in their lives for far too long and they are now just proving their strength and fighting for their place in the world. A message that is all too relevant in today’s world.

Flynn and McQueen write a script for a story that has many strings to tie together. The words and themes that connect the characters together makes for some powerful storytelling. The script aims to not only provide audiences with an edge of your seat character development, but also robust action scenes. It’s not your typical action movie, it wants to say something more than just completing the good guy vs. bad guy story.

The direction, also done by McQueen, is striking at times. McQueen begs to show the story rather than say it. This decision often leads to powerful statements in regard to various political matters. McQueen who was hailed for his greatness in directing the 2014 Oscar winner for Best Picture, “12 Years A Slave,” provides us with a strapping follow-up.

The cast of the film is one of magnificence. The cast boasts such talent as Viola Davis, Daniel Kaluuya, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Liam Neeson and Michelle Rodriguez.

Viola Davis, an Oscar winner for “Fences,” gives a towering performance as a woman forced to face the flames fired at her feet by the foul fixations of her foes. Davis plays Veronica in a fashion that makes clear the desire of her characters determination for her salvation is achieved. Davis’ performance is one of passion and lights up the screen with it’s fire.

Kaluuya, most famous for his Oscar-nominated work in “Get Out,” is absolutely terrifying in this role. Kaluuya plays the enforcer to Manning’s commands. It’s a type of role that is different for him and it shows his range as an actor.

“Widows” provides for more than just an entertaining night at the movies. It provides action while also adding in a bit more substance that action movies, more often than not, lack. It’s the kind of movie that rarely gets made in Hollywood in regard to its storytelling that it would be a shame to miss it.

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