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“Widows” thrills with enticing realism

Morally ambiguous situations are something that most people try to avoid. There can be blurred lines between which decision is the most ethical. People who are good and bad are displayed as sharp contrasts in many films. Bad people do horrible things with self-serving motives, while the good people try to do generous acts that help others. This is not very reflective of the real world. The world is not white and black. Everyone has their own separate troubles and life experiences that lead them down different paths. The film “Widows” dabbles heavily in themes of morality, making the audience question the implications of each character in the film.

The movie centers around Veronica, a woman who just lost her husband, Harry, after he died during a heist. During that heist, Harry and his associates had stolen two million dollars from Jamal Manning. Jamal was probably the worst person to steal money from, as he is both a crime boss and a politician running for office. Since Henry is dead, Jamal threatens Veronica to give him the two million dollars. There is never an exact threat, but there are heavy implications that Veronica will be killed if she doesn’t conform. Veronica now has to perform a planned robbery in her husband’s notebook with the widows of the other deceased heist members. She soon finds out that the robbery is against Jamal’s competitor, Jack Mulligan. The film does have a very convoluted plot, with many different plot lines involving the separate widows and the different political campaigns. The film seamlessly weaves the different plots into each other so that by the end of the film there are no loose threads.

This is a very real film. Each character has their own flaws and personalities that make them each stand out from such an overloaded cast.
The entire film is revolving around who will win the political race, Jamal or Jack. There is no clear cut side that is better. Jamal is a crime boss whose brother threatens and kills people who get in their way. Jack is a wealthier man who doesn’t even really want the job, but his racist father wants him to continue the family legacy. By the end of the film, I didn’t really want either of them to win. The deeper political layer of the film is one punctuated by wealth distribution and race. The film takes place in Chicago, a city well known for its problems with violence and police brutality. Veronica’s son was killed by a trigger happy police officer. There are multiple shootings and stabbings throughout the film insinuated by gang violence or the police. While the film does not make much obvious commentary on these actions, the subtle principle that this violence is a normal occurance is enough of a political message in itself. There is also a subtle recognition of the disparity of wealth between Jack and the section of the city he is trying to control. An amazing tracking shot in the film lingers on the hood of his car as they quickly drive from a poverty stricken area of the town to a suburban neighborhood where Jack’s headquarters are in a matter of minutes. The cinematography moves with purpose, framing shots to match reflections of different characters in order to see two different perspectives at once. No small detail goes unnoticed. When one of the widow’s daughters uses a voice-changer for a short scene, they later use it for the heist to conceal their voices. Small details are what propels a good movie into a great one, and “Widows” definitely has that.

Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry in "Widows"
Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry in “Widows”

Without many jokes, the film strives confidently on the skills of the actors involved in order to pull off a compelling drama piece. Many familiar faces such as Viola Davis, Liam Neeson and Daniel Kaluuya all star in the film. They all do a great job with the script at hand. Not one actor was miscast. Kaluuya especially played his role perfectly. He played the violent brother of Jamal, killing multiple people throughout the movie. Kaluuya is threatening in presence and presentation. He doesn’t need threatening lines of dialogue to get across that he is the boss, his performance sells that he is one.

There is a twist that happens semi-late into the film. This felt like the only weak part of the story, because it didn’t seem to add to the movie as a whole. Without the subplot, the movie would have operated the same as if it would without it. Despite the singular flaw, “Widows” is an impeccably made movie with great pacing, characters and dialogue that is well grounded into the reality ridden streets of Chicago.

What did you think of the film? Let us know in the comments below.

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2 comments

Ross December 8, 2018 at 2:48 pm

Sounds like a solid movie. Might need to check it out.

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Snowy November 29, 2018 at 12:40 pm

This movie sounds like an interesting watch! Will be sure to check it out next time if I have time.

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