Widows – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

November 16, 2018 by Roz Tarszisz
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There are certain conventions we can expect from a heist movie. The assembling of disparate characters, the difficulties of setting up the robbery, the preparations and a twist at the end. A touch of humour to leaven the tension goes down well too.

While director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) offers these conventions in this remake of the gritty 1983 British TV series by Lynda La Plante, they are not taken far enough.

When Veronica Rawlins’ (Viola Davis) husband Harry (Liam Neeson) is killed in a robbery gone wrong and he and his gang blown up, she is devastated.  Veronica, a union representative in smart suits, apparently had no idea he was a big player baddie.

She gets an unwelcome visit from local aspiring alderman Jamal Manning (Bryan Tyree Henry) who tells her that the $2million her husband stole was his and that she now owes him that money. She sets out to find a way to achieve this difficult task.

Her search leads her to Harry’s notebook in which he kept detailed notes of all his past and future jobs. Meanwhile, she is stalked by Jamal’s psycho brother Jateme (Daniel Kaluuya), a nasty piece of work, as she desperately contacts the other widows of her husband’s gang to enlist them to finish Harry’s next job and pay back Jamal.

Veronica’s research also leads her to Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) and his father Tom (Robert Duvall) a wealthy family who has been in power for decades.  Jack is running against Jamal in the upcoming local elections and it’s a toss-up which family is more venal.

Her gang is made of dippy Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and tougher Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), both of whom have been left destitute. When they need a driver, Linda ropes in Belle (Cynthia Erivo). What I missed is the camaraderie that would build up as the women prepared for the robbery Too many shots of Veronica mooning over Harry slow down the action.

Davis turns in her usual strong performance, Debicki is delightful as the dumb blond who gains confidence. Jackie Weaver as her overbearing mother provides a little insight.  I can overlook a few plot holes an inconsistencies but while I wanted to like this yarn of sisters doing it for themselves, there were too many credibility gaps.

3/5 2018   121 mins CTC Released 22 November

Starring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Brian Tyree Henry

Directed by Steve McQueen

Script by Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen

Based on Widows by Lynda La Plante

 

 

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