Thursday, November 29, 2018

Widows (a movie review post)

There are times when I read a book or watch a movie then refer back to the blurb about the work and wonder if the person who wrote that blurb actually partook of the material. I've come to decide that the answer to that is "no." The writer of the blurb watched, maybe, the first 10 minutes of the movie or read the first chapter or two of the book, enough to give them an idea of what they assumed the work was about, then wrote the summary based on that. And, you know, maybe that actually works for some material, maybe even most material, but, for anything complex, it does not. So, despite the talk to the contrary, Widows is not a heist movie [and, just to say it, The House on the Corner is not a haunted house story (or a heist story)]. Sure, it has a heist in it, but that doesn't make it a "heist movie."

What, then, is the movie about? In a word, I'm going to say that the movie is about betrayal. Betrayal and the far-reaching effects of it. I would say more, but anything else would be all spoilery, and you should really see this movie without it being spoiled for you. I mean, Gillian Flynn co-wrote it, so you know it's gonna have some twists in it, and I don't want to ruin those for anyone.

The movie does begin with a heist, a heist gone wrong. Tragically wrong. Which is what sets in motion the events of the rest of the movie, as the widows of the men killed try to pick up the pieces of their lives. The women, all of them, are interesting and complex characters and each is extremely well acted.

The movie rests on the very capable shoulders of Viola Davis, whose character, Veronica, is dealing with two tragedies plus the threat of violence against her. She is cold and hard and determined, and every part of Davis exudes these characteristics. She is more than believable in her role.

As may be expected by Steve McQueen (remember, he made 12 Years a Slave), the movie deals with themes of racism, while not actually being about racism. It's also politically relevant, pitting Jack Mulligan (played by Colin Farrell), who could pass for a somewhat progressive Democrat (at least, he's trying to do things for the betterment of the people whom he wants to represent), against his father, Tom Mulligan (Robert Duvall), a flaming racist Republican who only wants power for the sake of the power and not allowing African Americans the chance to have any. There's a great scene between the two of them... Well, that's all I'm going to say about that.

Also, I'll admit to having a Duvall bias. Between The Natural and Lonesome Dove, I came to love him as an actor while I was a teenager. And I tend to always think that Colin Farrell doesn't get the attention he deserves. He's not necessarily great at picking roles, but he's a great actor.

On the other hand, Liam Neeson has become a cardboard cutout of himself. Fortunately, this is another of those roles for him where he just gets to be that same kind of guy. Which is to say that he was just fine and did everything that was required of him in the movie.

Of the movies being talked about for Best Picture nominations this year, this is not my pick. However, of the movies my wife and I have seen so far of the probable nominations, this is the one we have talked about most since seeing it. I'm telling you, this movie has layers. It is the only one that we've decided that we actually must see again (though that will likely not be in the theater) because, now, knowing how it ends, we want to see some scenes again with that knowledge in our heads.

Also, I don't know that I'd say this is a "must see" movie, but it's very good and worth seeing. At least it is if you like movies that aren't quite as straightforward as they may seem and that will make you think, because this movie is likely to make you think. You probably can't ask more of a movie than that.


  1. Oh. I hadn't really considered this as something I needed to see. Now I might have to.

  2. That's a good recommendation. I'll have to add it to my list.