Movies usually need to make their characters relatable so that audiences can sympathise with them, as well as emotionally invest in them throughout the film. Widows takes twenty steps further with characters that are extremely real, intricate, and multi-dimensional in a world that is not the least bit sugarcoated.
Widows follows the lives of four women who have to pick up the pieces after their husbands die during a heist gone wrong in Chicago. Veronica (Viola Davis), wife of crew leader and infamous criminal Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson), is threatened by some of her husband’s “business partners” and is given a month to come up with $2 million that her husband owed. After finding her husband’s notebook, containing plans of his next heist, Veronica decides to go through with the plan and calls up the other widows to help her.
There is so much more to this feature than can be put in any plot summary; this is not just a heist movie, nor is it just a drama or just a thriller. Widows deals with so many issues; politics, morality, justice, poverty, to a name a few. This is done by creating a grimly realistic world in Chicago, which in itself acts as a much bigger metaphor.
The film gets straight to it with an action scene of Harry’s heist, intertwined with a quick introduction to the characters who we will soon get to know. From there on out the film tackles its many aspects all at once with perfect harmony, and extreme attention to details.
This was most evident in the depth of the characters and their arcs; Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) starts out as a battered abused woman who has been treated horribly by her late husband, and even her mother, but she turns into an empowered woman who will not accept mistreatment anymore. Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) is a mother of two struggling to provide a better life for her children after her store is taken away from her to repay her late husband’s debt. However, she fights for her kids with all she has got. Belle (Cynthia Erivo) is a working mother who has two jobs in order to provide for her daughter, and would do anything to make a good life for her. What stands out about these characters is their intricacy and sincerity, rather than just a mere superficial relatability.
As for the acting, Viola Davis is the biggest standout with gazes that speak endless unsaid words and a portrayal that perfectly balances strength with vulnerability. Elizabeth Debicki is also right up there with a memorable performance; she uses evocative changes in body language, giving depth to a character whose archetype is usually played superficially. Michelle Rodriguez proves she can do more than fire guns, drive cars, and be a badass, she can definitely do drama. Cynthia Erivo’s role was not too big, but she was able to portray her character with charisma and depth. Liam Neeson had a very small role, but excelled in it. Robert Duval played a racist retired power-hungry politician, and was absolutely brilliant, while Colin Farrell marvellously played his son.
Widows won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but if you like the details, and care for movies with layers, then this is definitely for you.