Emotionally raw and stylishly shot, with beguiling choices of filmmaking and storytelling. A cast of outstanding actors, all giving interesting, surprising performances.
The central premise – the civilian widows forced into completing the heist their criminal husbands died before pulling off – is engaging enough, but Widows also packs in a lot of other themes and ideas which it somehow manages to breeze through without seeming glib or gratuitous, some of which are even managed with real poignancy. Politics, grief, survival, adaptation, compromise, purpose; what we are prepared to give and to endure; what we allow ourselves to become – lofty as these may sound, and dramatic as these could be in this noir thriller context, they’re somehow grounded in a matter-of-fact realism and an unsettling relatability.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen female characters like these in a film – not their manner, or the way they interact. Certainly not in this genre, with this tone. It’s as riveting as Widows is on every other level.
Elizabeth Dibecki just about steals the show – which, given the exceptional cast and that most of the actors’ amazing performances are also playing against type (including a terrifying Daniel Kaluuya), is saying a lot. Her character Alice’s journey from frightened vulnerability to steely strength is compelling enough, but Dibecki’s portrayal, with startling dashes of humour and charm, adds so many little facets and tiny edges to savour along the way.
What a creative club sandwich upon which this feast is stacked: Gillian Flynn‘s (Gone Girl) story and character work, based on the writing of Lynda La Plante, is rich and surprising, while Steve McQueen‘s (Twelve Years A Slave, Shame) adventurous direction lets the characters and the camera find both stunning, intense action and unexpected, shaggy moments (shot so gorgeously by Sean Bobbitt), which are streamlined (by editor Joe Walker) into a brisk, taught thriller that is as refreshing as it is satisfying.