David Strat­ton

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film Reviews -

Lynda La Plante orig­i­nally wrote ows as a six-part se­ries for Bri­tish tele­vi­sion in 1983. The thriller about the wi­d­ows of three rob­bers was so suc­cess­ful that it spawned two sub­se­quent se­ries, Wi­d­ows 2 (1985) and She’s Out (1995). Now the orig­i­nal ma­te­rial has been trans­posed to the US — al­beit by a Bri­tish di­rec­tor — in a large-scale cin­ema ver­sion that has to be one of the year’s most sat­is­fy­ing thrillers.

On the sur­face Wi­d­ows may seem a cu­ri­ous as­sign­ment for Steve McQueen, who be­came the first black di­rec­tor to win an Os­car for best film ( 12 Years a Slave, 2013), af­ter gain­ing crit­i­cal suc­cess with his first two films, Hunger (2008) and Shame (2011). But McQueen, who col­lab­o­rated with crime writer Gil­lian Flynn on the screen­play, is clearly very much at home in telling this gen­uinely sus­pense­ful tale of women who, when faced with un­ex­pected tragedy, take mat­ters into their own hands.

Veron­ica Rawl­ins (Vi­ola Davis) is left a widow when the dar­ing armed rob­bery car­ried out by her hus­band, Harry (Liam Nee­son), and three con­fed­er­ates ends in an ex­plo­sive show­down with the Chicago po­lice. Soon af­ter these tragic events, Veron­ica re­ceives a visit from the for­mi­da­ble Ja­mal Man­ning (Brian Tyree Henry) who claims that the stolen money — which was de­stroyed in the con­fla­gra­tion — be­longed to him and that he wants it back.

Man­ning has a brother, Jatemme (Daniel Kalu­uya, a world away from his char­ac­ter in Get Out), who works as his en­forcer, and who is even scarier than he is. When Veron­ica ac­quires a note­book kept by Harry in which he recorded past and pro­posed rob­beries, she re­cruits the wi­d­ows of his con­fed­er­ates — Al­ice (El­iz­a­beth De­bicki) and Linda (Michelle Ro­driguez) to help her carry out one of these heists. The tar­get just hap­pens to be the stash of cash kept in his home by cor­rupt politi­cian Tom Mul­li­gan (Robert Du­vall) whose son, Jack (Colin Far­rell), is run­ning for lo­cal of­fice against Ja­mal.

The busy plot, con­tain­ing some tasty twists and sur­prises, is clev­erly han­dled by McQueen, who cre­ates a real sense of me­nace and threats to­wards the fe­male char­ac­ters at the hands of some very un­pleas­ant men. For­tu­nately these women are only too able to take care of them- Wi­d­ows (MA15+) Na­tional re­lease The Chil­dren Act (M) Na­tional re­lease Strange Colours (MA15+) Lim­ited re­lease Strange Colours; Emma Thomp­son in The Chil­dren Act, be­low

El­iz­a­beth De­bicki in Wi­d­ows; Daniel P. Jones and Kate Cheel, right, in

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