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Film Of The Week Winning widows

MARIA DUARTE recommends a ground-breaking heist thriller with women to the fore

Widows (15)
Directed by Steve McQueen
 

ACADEMY Award-winner Steve McQueen's new female heist drama is one of those rare films that's both a hugely entertaining popcorn feature while being socially and politically relevant. And it certainly puts women in the driving seat.

Based on Lynda La Plante's trailblazing mini-series Widows, McQueen, who co-wrote the screenplay with Gillian Flynn's (Gone Girl), has relocated the action from 1980s London to present-day Chicago in what's a pulse-raising thriller set against the backdrop of race relations, crime, political corruption and grief.

When Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson), the criminal husband of Veronica (Viola Davis), is killed during a daring robbery with his crew, she soon learns he owes $2 million to some dangerous people which still needs to be paid off.

She recruits the widows (Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki) of the men who died with Harry and a female driver Belle (an impressive Cynthia Erivo) to pull off the $5 million robbery Harry had been planning and thus settle his debt.

As Veronica tells the other women, “Now the best thing we have going for us is being who we are because no-one thinks we have the balls to pull this off.” That applies to female-driven crime capers and action films too, as the standout performances by these four actors — particularly Davis who is on magnificent form —  clearly show.

Their male counterparts, who include Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall and Daniel Kaluuya, are firmly in the back seat, though Kaluuya delivers a spine-chilling performance as a ruthless henchman and fixer who will do whatever it takes to get his crime boss elected locally.

Widows may seem a surprising departure for McQueen, but this sleek and stylish crime thriller is also complex and hard-hitting. It is a fascinating exploration of the modern-day urban US in which women are taking no prisoners in their fight for equality and to be heard and be counted. That's exactly what these badass widows do.

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