And we’re off! Until the 21st of October, London will welcome long feature films, short movies, documentary, etc. and each film’s cast and crew during the BFI London Film Festival. It’s already the 62nd edition of the annual film festival and more than 225 features have been selected. However, there can only be one opening film and this year that honour went to Steve McQueen’s (12 Years a Slave, Shame) Widows. With this film, the Oscar-winning director brings Lynda La Plante her ITV miniseries to the big screen. It’s a movie you will remember for both its story as well as its cast of badass women, starring Viola Davis.
Losing a husband must be heart-breaking. Even when you know he was tangled up in some dark practices involving guns, explosions, tons of money and death. Veronica Rawlins (Viola Davis) was certainly aware of her husband’s (Liam Neeson) sinister businesses but decided not to get mixed up in it. Sadly, he lost his life alongside the three of his acquaintances. When Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), a ferocious crime boss, is demanding two million dollars from Veronica, she has no choice but to continue the work of her late husband in order to pay her debt and get a better life. Knowing that she wouldn’t be able to pull this off alone, she will have to request the help from the other widows, Linda Perelli (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice Gunner (Elizabeth Debicki) and Belle O’Reilly (Cynthia Erivo). While the four women, who have nothing in common apart from their husbands’ debts and deaths, are trying to figure out both the heist as well as their lives. While politics are running high in the state of Chicago elections are coming up and while Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) and his family were never defeated in the elections, the table might be turning this time for good as they get competition from Jamal Manning and his brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya). The rivalry is at the highest level of tension. It involves some deaths and they have their voters backing them up, both have some valuable assets, they’re also involved in some dubious schemes. Who will seize power and who will fall trying. But most importantly, will these badass women be able to pull of the heist their husbands couldn’t?
If you’ve seen the television series, or read La Planta her captivating novel, you know the outcome of Widows and you also know that there will be some exciting and intriguing twists and turns. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it. On the contrary, this movie is incredibly well-crafted which will make you fall in love with the story all over again. First of all, it immediately starts with the cleverly made openings scene and its editing. The scenes of two different worlds (the quiet and peaceful homelife mixed with the harsh, brutal and ruthless heist operation) are colliding in a very smart way, alongside the perfectly fitting musical score. It’s that combination that will have you at the edge of your seat the entire time.
With a top-notch ensemble cast like this, McQueen definitely started from a pole position to make this film an excellent one. It not only about the explosions, car chases or the violence that are a big part of Widows but also the very human feelings that is present during this film. We can still hear the scream from Viola Davis (Fences, The Shape of Water) as her character learns of the death of the husband. Davis not only excels as the heartbroken and devastated widow but also the determined and resolute fighter who wants to finish what her husband started no matter what. When it comes to male power, Liam Neeson and Daniel Kaluuya have to share the number one position together. We all know that Neeson (Taken trilogy, Non-stop) has some badass fighting and action skills and he’s certainly not shy to show them in Widows, alongside with a more tender, emotional and caring side of his character. Kaluuya (Get Out, Black Panther) on the other hand shows no mercy at all as Jatemme, who’s unafraid, violent and clearly knows how to handle a gun or two. However, the entire cast deserves all the praise it can get as they as they all shine in this very character driven film. There are more raw emotions and human feelings to this film than you would expect from an American heist film.
Apart from being screened at the BFI London Film Festival, Widows will have its UK release on the 9th of November. It’s a film you can’t miss if you want to see a cleverly crafted piece of work in which action and emotions are side by side. What’s not to love about a film like this?
Liselotte Vanophem, Film and Celebrity Reporter – Just Celebrity Magazine