Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Heist film aims to get one over the 8

Heist film aims to get one over the 8

AFTER the diamond-encrusted glitz of Ocean’s 8 earlier this year, with its
all-female team of jewel thieves, Steve McQueen’s Widows is like a gritty retort.

Based on the Lynda La Plante TV series from the early Eighties, Widows is a thriller every bit as thought-provoking as you’d expect from the Oscar-winning director of 12 Years a Slave.

The film is scripted by McQueen and Gillian Flynn, the author of the bestselling Gone Girl, and it moves the action from Eighties London to modern-day Chicago.

The film opens with a robbery gone wrong, as Harry Rawlins (Liam Neeson) and his cronies are obliterated in a warehouse shoot-out with cops. It’s a pulsating action sequence brilliantly executed by McQueen and his long-term cinematographer, Sean Bobbitt. With their husbands dead, what follows — as the title suggests — is more about the women left behind.

Alongside Rawlins’s partner, teachers’ union rep Veronica (Viola Davis), there is Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), a mother of two who has a dress shop she can barely keep open, and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), who, after suffering domestic abuse from her late husband, lives in the shadow of her blunt mother (Jacki Weaver). These women don’t know each other, or seemingly much about their spouses’ crooked operations. Yet when Veronica is paid a visit by Jamal (Brian Tyree Henry), all that changes.

Jamal is running in the upcoming local election, but Harry and his gang stole $2million of campaign money and it went up in flames. Jamal wants what’s owed, and he’s not afraid to use violence. Veronica takes his threats seriously and fixes a meeting with Alice and Linda to plan a heist to pay off Jamal and his thugs.

“This is not your world,” Veronica is told, as she begins to make discreet enquiries about how she and her fellow widows might go about committing such a dangerous crime.

Although it operates as an intense and exciting crime thriller, that’s just the surface for Widows. Cultured, classy and multilayered, it sets out to depict a city where the haves and the have-nots live uncomfortably close to each other (summed up in one brilliant shot, with the camera mounted on a car bonnet as the vehicle travels in real time).

As McQueen explores a world where corruption is endemic, violence is everyday, and economic pressures are very real, the heavyweight themes never overpower what is a tense and taut heist story. You will be gripped.

Widows is now showing at the Regal Picturehouse cinema, where a film club screening will be held at 6pm on Monday (November 5), followed by a discussion in the café afterwards with free tea and coffee. All welcome.

Matthew Wilson

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