‘WIDOWS’ WEARS CHICAGO WELL
7 family movies everyone can agree on
Opening this week, the heist thriller “Widows” takes place in Chicago, where it was filmed. But you know what? You never get a shot of the Bean, the Millennium Park sculpture formally known as Cloud Gate. You don’t see any of the usual tourist destinations.
Rather, “Widows” is set against vivid corners of Hyde Park, Garfield Park, Englewood and Lawndale, as well as shadowy interiors inhabited by members of the corrupt ruling class. At one point Colin Farrell, who plays the weaselly heir to papa Robert Duvall’s political fiefdom, has a tense drink with some smiling adversaries — one of whom, Farrell notes, needs money because he has a couple of kids enrolled at the Latin School. The conversation in question, full of fast, murmuring zingers, takes place in the dark, swank lobby of the downtown Chicago Athletic Association hotel.
You do glimpse a bit of Lake Michigan from the lakeside condo owned by the main character, Veronica, a Chicago Teachers Union administrator turned reluctant but highly capable criminal mastermind played by Viola Davis. But only a bit.
Director Steve McQueen’s first feature since winning the Academy Award for “12 Years a Slave,” “Widows” mines Chicago’s tribal conflicts, combative wards (the 18th on the Southwest Side, to be specific, though this is fiction, not fact) and mythic underworld history for more than mere background. The film braids several sets of characters together: black, white, working class, leisure class, unscrupulous and … more unscrupulous. Or murderous.
“Once we knew we were setting it here, we wanted to touch on as many elements of the city as we could without overpacking it,” says screenwriter and Chicago resident Gillian Flynn, best known for her novels “Gone Girl” and “Sharp Objects.”
Director Steve McQueen says of Chicago, “The city’s catchphrase, at least for me, is: ‘I got a guy.’ If you can get away with it, you can get away with it.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt star in the musical “Mary Poppins Returns,” a sequel to the 1964 hit.