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Steve McQueen's next movie will be a major departure from 12 Years A Slave.


Viola Davis will star in Steve McQueen’s upcoming heist thriller “Widows” for New Regency.

“Gone Girl” screenwriter and novelist Gillian Flynn is on board to pen the script with McQueen.

Based on the 1983 British miniseries about a caper gone wrong, the story follows four armed robbers who get killed in a failed heist attempt, leaving their widows to finish the job.


It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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  • 2 years later...

This is not normally the plot of an awards winning film, but it sounds like it has been turned into a story that is much more powerful than most other directors would have made it.  I’m looking forward to this.

Chris Feil, Film Experience, September 16, 2018:
“Widows takes its seemingly straightforward crime narrative and weaves in character details and sociopolitical context to reflect a world where the personal and the political are inextricable, where institutional corruption and old boy loyalties create impossible consequences for the innocent average citizen. The personal and the political are inextricable here, with McQueen and Gillian Flynn’s screenplay sometimes allowing murkiness over definitiveness for the sake of effectively showing a world where reliable alliance is impossible. Manning’s political intentions appear just and honorable, undercut by his menace and willingness to enact the violence of his brother Jatemme, played with Chigurhian brilliance by Daniel Kaluuya. His rival, Colin Farrell’s Jack Mulligan, represents the status quo politicking that does nothing for the people, and has his own degrees of alternating virtue and nefariousness.

While this rich contextual fabric lends the film an immediacy, its McQueen’s take-no-prisoners approach to building tension that makes the film as invigorating and stressfully evocative as it is. Seldom does a scene occur that some small detail or character beat doesn’t intensify the moment, like the omnipresence of Veronica’s dog and the less than friendly atmosphere shared between the new partners in crime. It’s a constant stream of microtensions that turn Widows into a macro powder keg, leaving our nerves into a frayed tangle. Nailbiters beware.

Its massive cast (no seriously, even the bit players are recognizable faces) is all given opportunities to shine and given the space to complicate the texture of the film - though Jackie Weaver and Robert DuVall are perhaps given too much space. Along with Kaluuya’s terrifying villain, Debicki is the standout, even if her larger screentime provides repetitive beats that stick out against the film’s steady ability to surprise us with new ideas. Cynthia Erivo stealthily sneaks late into the film, ready to steal the multiplex as swiftly as she took the Broadway stage - her coarse interplay with Davis makes for one perfect wordless scene late in the film."

Christopher Machell, Cinevue, September 17, 2018:
“At the centre of the film is Viola Davis as Veronica Rawlings, the recently widowed wife of professional robber Harry (Liam Neeson). It’s a stunning performance, all at once strong, vulnerable and brave. Genre film or not, Davis’ depiction of profound grief is tremendously effective, elicited by McQueen’s audacious direction.

The opening sequence cross cuts between a night-time heist gone violently wrong, with Harry and his colleagues dying in hailstorm of bullets and fire, and Veronica tenderly embracing her husband in between their crisp white bed sheets. McQueen consistently deploys such devices throughout the film, using the reflections in windows and musical cues to conjure Veronica’s bereaved memories.

The second of this year’s second women-led heist flicks, Widows is as thrilling – and as relevant – as it gets. Although Veronica is at the centre of the film, her co-stars Elizabeth Debicki and Michelle Rodriguez as the wives of Harry’s associates, are given more than sufficient depth for us to empathise when they enter the frame. Crucially, the women share a common goal and experience, yet have wildly different backgrounds, thrown together under tragic circumstances.

... McQueen elevates it with the political element that Manning – who is running for District Alderman – brings with him. Opposing Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), the anointed son of incumbent Alderman Tom Mulligan (Robert Duvall), it’s here that McQueen capitalises on the David Simon-esque racial politics.

In one astonishing shot, Mulligan the younger bickers with his aide about the city’s black people ‘killing each other.’ As they enter Mulligan’s car, the camera stays outside, sitting at the front of the vehicle. As they move down the street, the camera pans from the dilapidated projects and across the windshield, briefly revealing that Mulligan’s driver is black, before completed its maneuver to settle at the left side of the car, revealing Mulligan’s enormous family home. In a single shot, McQueen distills the essence of the film’s political underpinnings, a thesis that culminates in the brief, thrilling heist sequence and a rousing conclusion.”

Ella Kemp, Culture Whisper, September 18, 2018:
“It would be easy to dismiss Widows as providing box-checking awards bait with big names and a reliable story. But despite the anticipation and support that lifts the project, what allows every word to ring true is the brutal violence that manages to surprise every sceptical thought and punish the assumptions ever stacked against a woman who has dared to love someone.

The film never loses credibility, as McQueen manages to mesh explosive entertainment with realistic politics of gender and societal injustice. The women at war remain engaging because the mission stems from something bigger than an impulsive loyalty or an obligatory reaction of fear. It digs into reclaiming what they need and, finally, what they deserve. 

Love and loyalty motivate the heist, but these emotions work against the players. This allows for more moments of comedy than the premise entails, with jabs at gun culture, stereotypical female weaknesses and the economy of online intimacy. 

There's a difference between the ease in stealing and killing, and the force it takes to save yourself in order to be happy. Widows is a critique of everyday evils and betrayal; a searing lesson on how revenge and redemption go hand in hand. As topical as it may be, it's important to remember the film as more than ‘a moment’. The reaping of this harvest is only just beginning.”

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: Based on the 1983 British miniseries about a caper gone wrong, the story follows four armed robbers who get killed in a failed heist attempt, leaving their widows to finish the job.

Huh. I wasn't as blown away by the movie as I wanted to be -- I admired some of the craft, but also found myself thinking people who want a straightforward genre pic would come away disappointed -- but I'm curious to see this miniseries now.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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