Film – Widows

Film – Widows


There are two stories running here. The first is of the two candidates running in a local election; Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), whose family has run the ward for generations and he is taking over from his corrupt father (Robert Duvall) and working class Jamal Manning (Bryan Tyree Henry), who’s sadistic brother will do more for money than do anything to help get his brother elected. So who do we route for if they’re both crooked?

The second – and major – story is of the widows, lead by Veronica (Viola Davis is spectacular again). These are the four ladies married to the seasoned gang lead by Veronica’s husband Harry (Liam Neeson) who have all been killed during a robbery.

But ‘Harry doesn’t make mistakes’ so what went wrong this time and what happened to the stolen money? It turns out the cash was the campaign fund belonging to the Mannings and they threaten Veronica to get it back. This is what leads her to find Harry’s plans for his next job for which she enlists the other widows to pull off.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Mannings are black and Mulligan’s white. On first glance, particularly as we’re introduced to the Mannings election HQ in an empty church, we’d expect the them to be the oppressed and wanting to stand up for their community. That may be the case, but god-fearing they are not. In particular the brother, played menacingly by Daniel Kaluuya, and most of his violent scenes I watch through my fingers.

And Mulligan Snr is a privileged  white man who feels entitled to power but his son, not so much. I haven’t read the Lynda La Plante book or the TV series it’s based on, but I’m guessing that wasn’t based in the divided Chicago (rich/poor, white/black) depicted here.

Whereas the characters, including all of the widows are from all different races, what I like most about this film is that race isn’t mentioned. Just like in the real world, there are good and bad people of all colours. Yes the widows knew how their men made their money but they weren’t directly involved so we do find ourselves routing for them. Even Jack Manning isn’t who he at first appeared to be. Nor is Harry; Liam Neeson as a bad – really bad – guy sure adds to the twists and turns that keep the viewer guessing to the end.*

7½/10

*Unless you’d seen the TV series/read the book I guess.

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