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WIDOWS: REVENGE IS BITTERSWEET

Widows gets your attention right away with something that’s still rare and provocative: a passionate love scene filmed in close-up between an interracial couple, Viola Davis and Liam Neeson. It’s followed by visceral scenes of action and violence in the execution of a high-stakes robbery that kills all of its participants, including Neeson. When Davis realizes she is alone in the world with no money of her own, she recruits the other women whose partners and spouses have been cut down. Her daring plan: to pull off a heist of their own. Her motivations include survival, revenge, and an outlet for her overwhelming anger.
 
The leading lady is a tower of strength, although when she breaks down we’re reminded that no one cries onscreen quite like Viola Davis. As the leader of this impromptu “gang” of robbers she has to convey strength and never show a sign of weakness. All the women use their resources and wiles to pull off this caper.
 
The story takes potshots at corruption, backroom politics (as exemplified by Colin Farrell’s character), and open, unabashed prejudice that still runs deep in the hearts of people like Robert Duvall, as Farrell’s unrepentant old-school father.
 
The audience I saw it with cheered out loud at the finale of Widows, and it’s
easy to see why, although the deeper question of morality in the women’s game plan is never explored. It’s a good movie, if not a great one, with an excellent cast: Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Daniel Kaluuya, Lukas Haas, Brian Henry, Garret Dillahunt, Carrie Coon, Jacki Weaver, Jon Bernthal, and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. Director Steve McQueen has focused on more cerebral topics in most of his films (Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave) but he shows here that he has a firm grasp on staging action and violent set-pieces. He has said that he wanted to reach a wider audience and this film should deliver the goods.
 
Incidentally, my wife and daughter saw all the movie’s story twists and reveals coming a mile away. I did not. Is that evidence of female intuition? Perhaps.

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