Widows

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

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Criminals don’t have pension plans. So what are wives supposed to get by on when their hubbies are killed on a botched job?

In director Steve McQueen’s new heist film “Widows,” the wives get together and plan their own caper.

This is an ensemble piece, featuring Viola Davis (Oscar-winner for “Fences”), Michelle Rodriguez (the “Fast & Furious” films), and Elizabeth Debicki (“The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”) as the three widows.

Cynthia Erivo (“The Color Purple”) joins them as their getaway driver.

Brian Tyree Henry (TV’s “Atlanta”) plays the crime boss to whom the gals are indebted to the tune of $2 million. Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out”) is his brother, a cold-hearted enforcer for the mob.

Colin Farrell (“Total Recall”) appears as a politician who’s trying to hold onto the alderman seat that’s been in his family for 60 years. Robert Duvall (Oscar-winner for “Tender Mercies”) steps in as his racist father.

The film is filled with the director’s own observations about race, sex, class, and politics.

As for the storyline, Liam Neeson (the “Taken” series ), Manuel Garcia-Ruflo (“The Magnificent Seven” remake), and Jon Bernthal (TV’s “The Punisher”) are the criminal husbands whose van explodes during a bullets-blazing high-speed police chase.

Turns out, Neeson has left his wife a notebook that includes the blueprint for a robbery he didn’t get around to committing. Davis enlists the other widows to help her pull it off.

“Oceans 11” it’s not. In some ways the heist gets in the way of the dramatic story. But you’ll appreciate the gritty realism of the wives’ plight.

“Widows” is currently bringing its crime wave to Tropic Cinema.

The film is based on a 1983 British miniseries of the same name. It was adapted as a film by Steve McQueen (Oscar-winner for “12 Years a Slave”) and Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”).

Directing this film is a change in genre for McQueen who has mainly specialized in art house pictures.

“I want to engage with a wider, broader public,” he says. “If you want real change, you have to engage with the people you’re making films about. But I’m not lowering my political, intellectual engagement. I’m rising toward something, not lowering.”

That said, I’m reminded that the Latin word “altus” means both tall … and deep. It’s the same distance, whether you’re on top looking down, or on the bottom looking up.

Email Shirrel: srhoades@aol.com

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