• Melissa Kartini

Movie Review: Widows Is a Movie That Somberly Sets Itself Apart from Other Heist Films

Updated: Jan 11, 2019

  • Genre: Crime/Drama/Thriller

  • Rating: 18

  • Language: English

  • Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Garret Dillahunt, Carrie Coon, Jacki Weaver, Jon Bernthal, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo with Robert Duvall, and Liam Neeson

It was not that long ago when a heist film about an all-female group was released. ("Ocean's 8", anyone?) Now, months later, comes "Widows", a film that bears a grittier aesthetic from the get-go. A stark contrast to the sleeker look that "Ocean's 8" boasts.

Where "Ocean's 8" boasts elegance and luxury that are common themes in heist films, "Widows" opts for a more toned down look. Dressed in fairly ordinary clothes that are typical of housewives and really, normal folk, "Widows" feels more relatable in this sense, but at the same time, it wears the air of promising so much more.

Whether the impression it lends is true or otherwise, however, remains to be seen. So if you're ready, let's get this show on the road and find out.

What is it about?

The premise of "Widows" seems simple enough. "Widows" is essentially about a group of women who, after the demise of their criminal husbands due to a botched job, are forced to pull off a job to settle their husbands' debt.

A life of crime isn't something that any of these women are accustomed to. This is made apparent from the start, where we are shown glimpses of both the past and present; sweeter days of comfort between Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) and Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson), and a heated, adrenaline-driven car chase as Harry and his cohorts race towards their deaths.

It is the moment that the van that Harry and his partners (as well as the money that they had stolen from a renowned crime boss) are in goes up in flames is when the story truly begins.

This scene serves as a trigger to set Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), crime boss and politician, on Veronica. As it turns out, Jamal was the man that Harry and his cohorts had robbed, and he wants his money back--all 2 million of it.

Feeling backed into a corner, Veronica seeks the help of three other people she knows are the most likely to help her. Their status as total strangers to one another be damned. After all, the women she has in mind are tacked with the same debt too, given that their husbands had helped Harry.

Is it worth a watch?

In contrast to the majority of heist films, the energy that "Widows" bears is much more muted, albeit no less potent. Instead of high-energy action scenes, smooth-talking criminals and instances of sheer luxury dripping from every frame, "Widows" is a film that moves with a sense of dread. Weary with the trials of life, there is low energy to it, but at the same time, it is deeply emotional. Without getting sentimental. Additionally, it is also one of those few films with a main all-female criminal ensemble that doesn't scream and preach feminism at every chance it gets.

As a result, this combination is an interesting mix that you cannot help but to keep watching, wondering what it is that "Widows" has in store next.

In the simplest of ways to describe it, the story "Widows" has under its weathered mantle owns a deceptively powerful emotional punch.

A compelling tale isn't the only weapon that "Widows" has in its arsenal, however. It is blessed with a cast that is pretty damned hard to beat. Viola, as the serious, emotionally restrained leader of the group; Michelle Rodriguez plays browbeaten Linda, who despite giving the impression of only being an exhausted mother and widow, wears an air of subtle complexity to her; Elizabeth Debicki who plays tall, gorgeous Alice, the formerly abused wife of Florek Gunner (Jon Bernthal); and finally, Daniel Kaluuya as Jatemme, Jamal's terrifying brother whose means of solving problems is through cold-hearted, brutal violence.

The most entertaining performance without a doubt goes to Elizabeth, whose character transformed from someone who was dejected and submissive, to someone who takes ownership of her life. But the person who really stole the show? That one has to go to Viola, as despite Veronica's incredible emotional restraint, she still manages to demonstrate that Veronica is as vulnerable and human as the rest of us. Viola didn't need to do it by resorting to loud proclamations either; her emotions were shown through the way her expression would silently twist, the way her shoulders shook, the way she would tense.

And just like how she had made the proposition to her heist partners-to-be, and Veronica compels you to give "Widows" a shot.

"Widows" is hitting cinemas this coming 17 January 2019

Written by Crunch's Melissa Kartini

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