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‘Widows’ a brilliantly crafted heist film

November 23, 2018
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Viola Davis (left) and Cynthia Erivo appear in a scene in “Widows.”

Promising to be a clever crime film, “Widows” does more than deliver. Written by Gillian Flynn, author of female-led mystery novels like “Gone Girl” and “Sharp Objects,” the story itself is intelligent on multiple levels. Not only was the heist itself brilliant, but the interpersonal relationships, political and class conflict, and the internal and emotional unrest throughout all the characters work to create an immersive and claustrophobic environment that will leave you holding your breath until the credits roll. Also, the dog is really cute.

Set in modern-day Chicago, days before a particularly contentious election, a police shootout after a robbery attempt leaves four thieves dead. Their widows — four women with otherwise nothing in common with each other — are left to face the downfall. Taking fate into their own hands, the widows (Academy Award-winning Viola Davis, “Fast and the Furious’” Michelle Rodriguez, breakout actress Elizabeth Debicki, and TV star Carrie Coon) team up together to plan and execute the last heist their husbands were planning. Original, well filmed, and brilliantly cast, “Widows” is a unique, dramatic breath of fresh air.

Even the quiet, less action-driven moments between Liam Neeson and Viola Davis accentuate the humanity of the characters, giving the film a softness that makes their plight all the more stressful for everyone in the audience. Furthering the idea that not every action film has to be loud, the beautifully paced sequences of mornings spent together strengthens their already strong on-screen chemistry, giving them a sense of loving vulnerability. Every camera angle thoughtfully placed to make the film as visually clever as the story, “Widows” is determined to be an Academy Award contender — and a fantastic one at that.

Gillian Flynn writing and Steve McQueen directing are a perfect team, making all the unpredictable twists and turns of the story (of which there are many) even more ultra-satisfying. With each cast member giving equally strong performances, every part of the story — from the opening scene to the final shot — pulls you in, absorbed in their stressful reality. Genre defying in all the perfect ways, the complex storylines are nothing short of perfect. Loaded with intention, nothing is accidental; every camera angle, line spoken and cruelly entwined storylines are all thought out from start to end, nothing left to chance. Brilliantly done, “Widows” is complex and winding — exactly the type of film deserving of a re-watch.

Well cast, written, directed and produced, “Widows” balances its commentary on gender, class and race relations with the tension of planning the heist with a careful, experienced hand. As much about society as it is about the heist, the ensemble cast more than succeeds in creating strong, flawed characters. Full of surprises and gasp-worthy turns, “Widows” will stick with you hours after you’ve left the theater.

Grade: A+

Rose Dunton, originally of Nampa, has been living in Pocatello for the past four years. Proficient in Japanese, she is an avid film buff.

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