Matt Dekonty
Student Writer

Clean Getaway

Widows is a slick and intelligent crime drama that utilizes its stacked, ensemble cast, for an engaging and immensely satisfying heist film, culminating in one of 2018’s better films to date. Director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) and writer Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) have already shown their knack for handling this kind of material, so the film’s immensely clean presentation and airtight script should come as no surprise.

A Strong Undercurrent

Following a botched heist that ends in the death of those involved, Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) discovers a plan for one final job her husband left for her following his death. In desperate need of cash following building pressure from outside sources, Veronica quickly begins to assemble the crew she needs to pull off the heist and pay off her debts. Widows is similar to Gone Girl in the sense that they both are structured around a story that seems better suited to a pulpy, bordering-on-exploitative style thriller, yet elevates its source material through an excellent subtext of social commentary and stellar filmmaking.

The Sum of its Parts

Widows shines in its visual presentation, with many extensive, single-take shots really bringing a sense of realness to the world in which it takes place. The film also benefits from excellent music and sound design, which is blended together during its opening sequence as we cut between the final minutes of the original heist, as well as the lives of the women who will soon be leading the story. Each character has their motivation established extremely well, but the story doesn’t stop there. Intermixed with these characters’ struggles lies a precinct election between one candidate who seems to have every resource at his fingertips, thanks to his father’s influence, as well as an up-and-comer who built his campaign on grassroots optimism.

Moral Grays

Instead of taking the easy route and making one candidate the villain and the other a hero, Widows settles securely in the moral gray area, showing the greed that both utilize in order to get ahead. None of our characters are without flaw, yet the way their morals and stories intermingle results in an incredibly deep and unique narrative.

More Than Meets The Eye

However, political corruption and high-crimes aren’t the only issues that Widows tackles. Much like the aforementioned Gone Girl, the story is elevated by its social commentary. Two of our main characters’ backstories involve the difficulties of interracial marriage and subsequent police brutality, while another is forced into a life she doesn’t want based on financial pressures.

Rather than viewing these through a one-sided lens, we truly begin to understand what these situations are like from a more humanistic perspective, which is once again brought to life by excellent performances all around, though namely by Viola Davis and Michelle Rodriguez.  Widows is, quite simply, one of the better films of 2018. While much of its runtime is more focused on character drama than suspenseful action, the setup and subsequent finale are tense and unpredictable. Essentially every filmmaking and narrative element gels together extremely well, and solidifies both its writer and director as two of Hollywood’s most talented names.

 

Photo retrieved from Screen Rant.

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