Film Festivals

TIFF 2018: Widows Review

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. If you would like to keep up with our content, click here.

Synopsis: From Academy Award®-winning director Steve McQueen and co-writer and bestselling author Gillian Flynn comes a blistering, modern-day thriller set against the backdrop of crime, passion and corruption. “Widows” is the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica, Linda, Alice and Belle take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms. (20th Century Fox)

Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, and Elizabeth Debicki

Writers: Gillian Flynn and Steve McQueen

Director: Steve McQueen

Rating: R (United States)

Running Time: 128mins

Trailer:

Now this film had all the makings of a hit and unsurprisingly, it is. The story here does something different with the crime genre by putting the wives of said criminals at the forefront (hence the title). After their husbands faced their demise in what was a thrilling sequence of events (and one of the best of the year), Veronica (Davis), Linda (Rodriguez), and Alice (Debicki) were faced with the consequences of their actions, including the subsequent debts they’ve accrued from the seedy people they stole from. When Jamal (Brian Tyree Henry) and Jatemme Manning (Daniel Kaluuya) wanted their money back, it was up to these widows to step out from their husbands’ shadows and to make a life for themselves.

The more personal side of the story was just as compelling to watch as the heist thriller elements but there wasn’t nearly enough of it. These widows were nowhere near professional criminals so their was an adjustment period. Ultimately, their transformation over the course of the film was fun to watch. Meanwhile, we were introduced to the corrupt world of Chicago municipal politics and we got to see how bad the Mannings really were. The story is a slow burn and there are a lot of pieces, however, they all come together by the end in what was a thrilling conclusion.

The best part of the film was the performances across the board. Obviously the widows, including another team member named Belle (Cynthia Erivo). The chemistry between Davis, Rodriguez, Debicki, and Erivo was excellent while each give terrific performances. This was Davis’ film but each had plenty of moments of their own. Davis was great as Veronica and the best of the four, showing strength and taking charge despite her fear. The same was the case for Rodriguez and Debicki as Linda and Alice respectively. Erivo was a delight as Cynthia as the different stakes for her character meshed well with the others.

Overall, this was an excellent, super tense, edge of your seat crime thriller with excellent performances all around, especially from Viola Davis. It may be a slow burn and a little bumpy along the way but it comes together by the end in a thrilling conclusion.

Score: 9.5/10

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