Cinema delivers three iconic McQueens: Lightning McQueen, The Great Escape's Steve McQueen and a mighty British director of the same name. However I'm certain the McQueen who helms this picture has never won the Piston Cup, nor has he escaped Nazi's on a Triumph T60. That said, this Steve McQueen is the genius behind the moving period drama 12 Years A Slave, with an Oscar to show for his efforts. Five years on he returns with Widows - a gripping crime thriller based on Lynda La Plante's iconic 1985 Television series.
Following a heist gone wrong a group of notorious criminals are killed in the streets of Chicago. Caught up in the turmoil of their husbands corrupt lives, four wives - who share nothing in common - join together to attempt to pull off a dangerous job that will hopefully pay the debt their husbands left behind.
McQueen visions a hauntingly bleak portrait of modern-day society. Widows takes you off guard in such cunning and unforeseen ways, but you have to concentrate on the big picture, beyond the standard revenge thriller set-up. McQueen's visual storytelling reveals a great deal about contemporary America - a nation engulfed in crime, corruption, racism and particularly gun violence. Doing what all great filmmakers should do, McQueen shows you what's happening rather than telling you; incorporating brutally honest elements from the real-world into his story. With a stellar cast, Widows epitomises though-provoking cinema; but it's a film that voices its themes quietly.
McQueen's direction guides us along this brutally honest and harrowing journey. In one of the most vigorous moments, the camera - mounted on a car bonnet - tracks across the city from an area of extreme poverty to a wealthy, white picket fence neighboroughood within a single continuous take. In the space of three minutes McQueen has established the stark social divide. Later a crane shot adjacent to the Subway projects the bright lights, hope and prosperity of Chicago before skulking down to the dark and perilous streets, firmly reminding you of the bitter reality.
The widows each bring their own challenges, enriching the story in diverging ways and deepening the difficult themes McQueen tackles. Elizabeth Debicki turns in her best performance as the abused and tormented Alice, Michelle Rodriguez presents the difficulties of singlehandedly raising two young children, but most expert of all is Viola Davis as Veronica. She portrays the stoic, balls of steel leader of the group - a woman with a gut wrenching past who has become characterised by her husband. Amongst many things, the heist is a means for her to prove herself as an individual in an otherwise doomed society.
Widows reveals the cracks in American politics without being ham-fisted or preachy. With McQueen's potent direction and Gone Girl's Gillian Flynn's momentous screenplay - Widows is packed with racial, social and political commentary. This crime drama, heist thriller may be thick skinned like its lead character but underneath there's all manner of pain and suffering. In point of fact, Widows is a defining feature for this year - and possibly for many years to come.
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.