Widows (2018 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steve McQueen|
by Lynda La Plante
|Music by||Hans Zimmer|
|Edited by||Joe Walker|
|Box office||$76 million|
Widows is a 2018 British-American heist thriller film directed by Steve McQueen from a screenplay by Gillian Flynn and McQueen, based upon the 1983 British television series of the same name. The plot follows four Chicago women who attempt to steal $5 million from the home of a prominent local politician in order to pay back a crime boss from whom $2 million was stolen by the women's husbands before they were killed in a botched getaway attempt. A British-American co-production, the film features an ensemble cast consisting of Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Carrie Coon, Robert Duvall, and Liam Neeson.
Widows premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2018, and was theatrically released in the United Kingdom on November 6, 2018 and in the United States on November 16, by 20th Century Fox. The film grossed $76 million worldwide and received praise for its direction, editing, screenplay and performances (particularly Davis, Debicki and Kaluuya), with critics crediting it for blending "dramatic themes with popcorn thrills". It received several award nominations, among them one for Davis for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Harry Rawlings and his criminal gang's getaway van are blown up during a police standoff after stealing $2 million from crime boss Jamal Manning. Jamal threatens Veronica, Harry’s widow, demanding compensation, needing the money to finance his campaign for alderman of a South Side, Chicago ward. He is running against Jack Mulligan, the next-in-line of a dynastic family that has held the position for decades. Mulligan doesn't like politics, but is happy to profit from it; his racist father Tom, the previous alderman, warns him that he will face everlasting shame if he loses to Jamal.
Veronica is given a key to a safety deposit box by Bash, Harry's loyal chauffeur, which contains Harry's notebook. Inside it is a detailed plan for stealing $5 million from Mulligan's home. She is advised to sell the notebook to Jamal's people, but decides against it.
Veronica decides to carry out the heist, recruiting two of the other widows, Alice and Linda. Alice had lost her life of luxury and was forced by her mother to become a sugar baby. Linda lost her store, as her husband secretly gambled away the rent payments. The fourth widow, Amanda, does not join them, as Veronica discovers she has a 4-month-old baby. Alice acquires guns and a getaway van, while Linda deciphers Harry's blueprints. Jamal's brother and right-hand man Jatemme attacks several witnesses and kills Bash while looking for Harry's notebook. Eventually, Alice uses a real estate executive, her sugar daddy, to identify the blueprint as the safe room in Mulligan's home.
Linda recruits Belle, her babysitter, to be the group's driver. Veronica visits Amanda and her baby, where she notices Harry's flask, indicating that Harry is likely alive and the father of Amanda's baby. Devastated, Veronica leaves without saying anything. It is revealed that Harry is alive and double crossed his crew by deliberately blowing up their getaway van. He is in league with Mulligan, to ruin Jamal's campaign. Returning home, Veronica opens the door to her son's room and relives the memory of his death (he was shot by police officers after being pulled over while driving). Veronica visits the Mulligan home and asks Jack for protection from the Mannings, but she's actually there to case the premises, while Belle scans the outdoor security.
Veronica blackmails the CEO of the Mulligans' security company for the safe code, using incriminating photos left in Harry's notebook. The heist begins with Belle creating a disturbance down the street to draw the outside security detail away. Veronica and the others stun the lone security guard inside. Veronica, Linda and Alice reach the safe and retrieve the money. On their way out, Tom appears, unmasks Veronica and wounds Alice with a gunshot; Linda fatally shoots him.
The women escape, but Jatemme appears, holds Belle at gunpoint and flees in their van with the money; they follow him in a separate car and ram him from behind, causing him to crash and killing him. They retrieve the money, then get Alice to the hospital. Veronica returns alone to their hideout, where Harry arrives to steal the money, needing $1 million of it to keep Mulligan quiet about his faked death. Harry claims that after the death of their son and subsequent disintegration of their marriage, he wanted to start over with Amanda and their child. Harry retrieves the money in the van, and turns to shoot Veronica – but Veronica kills him first.
Jack wins the position of alderman due to a sympathy vote following his father's murder. Linda reacquires her store, Alice sets up her own business, and Belle moves away. Veronica donates a large sum to rebuild a school library on the condition that it be named after her son Marcus. Outside of a diner, Veronica sees and warmly greets Alice.
- Viola Davis as Veronica, a Chicago teachers' union delegate and Harry's widow
- Michelle Rodriguez as Linda, a clothing store owner and Carlos's widow
- Elizabeth Debicki as Alice, Florek's widow, who becomes a sugar baby to support herself after her husband's death
- Carrie Coon as Amanda, Jimmy's widow, who is not involved in Veronica's robbery scheme
- Liam Neeson as Harry Rawlings, a renowned bank robber who was Veronica's loving husband
- Jon Bernthal as Florek, a member of Harry's gang who was Alice's abusive husband
- Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Carlos, a member of Harry's gang who was Linda's gambler husband
- Coburn Goss as Jimmy, a member of Harry's gang who was Amanda's husband
- Colin Farrell as Jack Mulligan, a politician who is mixed up in Veronica's plan
- Brian Tyree Henry as Jamal Manning, a crime boss and politician who believes Veronica is indebted to him
- Daniel Kaluuya as Jatemme Manning, Jamal's brother and mob enforcer
- Robert Duvall as Tom Mulligan, Jack's father and a power broker at odds with his son
- Cynthia Erivo as Belle, a babysitter and beautician who looks after Linda's children and works with Veronica's group
- Garret Dillahunt as Bash Babiak, Harry and Veronica's chauffeur
- Jacki Weaver as Agnieska, Alice's abusive mother
- Lukas Haas as David, a real estate developer with whom Alice develops a transactional sexual relationship following Florek's death
- Matt Walsh as Ken, the CEO of a security company
- Kevin J. O'Connor as Bobby Welsh, a disabled bowling alley worker who was formerly involved with Harry
- Michael J. Harney as Fuller, a corrupt cop
The project was announced as being in development on March 27, 2015, with a script written by Gillian Flynn and Steve McQueen, and with McQueen attached to direct. In September 2016, Viola Davis joined the cast. It was reported that Jennifer Lawrence was approached for a role, but, due to scheduling conflicts, had to decline. In November 2016, Cynthia Erivo joined the cast. In January 2017, André Holland entered negotiations to co-star in the film, but does not appear in the finished product. The next month, Elizabeth Debicki was cast in the role Lawrence had declined, and Michelle Rodriguez and Daniel Kaluuya were also announced as cast members. In March, Liam Neeson joined the cast. The following month, Colin Farrell was added along with Robert Duvall. In May, Garret Dillahunt, Jacki Weaver, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Lukas Haas and Brian Tyree Henry were set to co-star, and in June, Carrie Coon was added. Michael Harney and Jon Bernthal joined the cast in August. The British actress Ann Mitchell, who had portrayed Dolly Rawlins in the television series, has a small part as Amanda's mother.
Hans Zimmer composed the film's score with additional music provided by Steve Mazzaro. The soundtrack, released by Milan Records, includes the score as well as songs by Nina Simone, and the Cool Kids, as well as a new song "The Big Unknown" by Sade later released as a single.
Widows grossed $42.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $33.6 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $76 million, against a production budget of $42 million.
In the United States and Canada, Widows was released alongside Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Instant Family, and was projected to gross $12–18 million from 2,803 theaters in its opening weekend. It grossed $4.2 million on its first day, including $600,000 from Thursday night previews. It ended up making $12.3 million over the weekend, finishing fifth at the box office. Deadline Hollywood stated that the low debut was because of a "lack of urgency" in the advertising, and that the studio should not have relied on the good reviews alone to sell the film. Other publications, including Business Insider, said the film should have been released outside the busy November frame, and that the perceived marketing toward specifically African-American audiences, and its R-rating, limited the film's appeal. In its second weekend, the film dropped 33% to $8.2 million (and $10.5 million total over the five-day Thanksgiving frame), finishing eighth, and then made $4.4 million in its third weekend.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 91% based on 396 reviews, with an average rating of 8.11/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Widows rounds up a stellar ensemble for a heist thriller that mixes popcorn entertainment with a message – and marks another artistic leap for director Steve McQueen." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 84 out of 100, based on 57 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars; social media monitor RelishMix noted online responses to the film were "mixed".
Owen Gleiberman of Variety praised McQueen's direction and Davis's performance and wrote, "The strongest aspect of Widows is the way the movie gets us — and keeps us — rooting for its desperate-living heroines. They're past the point of just wanting to have fun (the subtext of almost every heist movie); they're less concerned with comeuppance than sheer survival." Eric Kohn of IndieWire gave the film an "A-", saying the film "works as well as it does due to the way McQueen juggles substance with entertainment value to such eager subversive ends. The movie engages with topics as complex as sexism, police brutality, and interracial marriage, but it still delivers on the car chases and gunplay. No superhero movie digs this deep." Dirty Movies considered it one of the best films of 2018, describing it as McQueen's best work since Hunger. Representing more critical views, Leah Greenblatt at Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C+", arguing that it's "not clear exactly what kind of movie(s) Widows wants to be" and that it feels like a "crazy-quilt patchwork of other, better films".
Top ten lists
Widows was listed on numerous critics' top ten lists for 2018, among them:
- 1st – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
- 1st – David Sims, The Atlantic
- 2nd – Vinnie Mancuso, The Globe and Mail
- 3rd – Matthew Jacobs, The Huffington Post
- 3rd – Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
- 4th – Tim Grierson, Screen Daily
- 5th – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
- 5th – Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
- 6th – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
- 6th – Jason Guerrasio, Business Insider
- 6th – Kristen Lopez, RogerEbert.com
- 7th – Christopher Orr, The Atlantic
- 7th – Marlow Stern, The Daily Beast
- 8th – Jesse Hassenger, The A.V. Club
- 8th – Mara Reinstein, Us Weekly
- 8th – Carly Darling, Houston Chronicle
- 9th – Max Weiss, Baltimore Magazine
- 9th – Omer Mozaffar, RogerEbert.com
- 9th – Vinnie Mancuso, Collider.com
- 9th – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
- 10th – The Guardian
- 10th – Matt Singer, ScreenCrush
- Top 10 (listed alphabetically) – WIRED
- Top 10 (listed alphabetically) – Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel
- Best of 2018 (listed alphabetically, not ranked), NPR
Awards and nominations
|BAFTA Awards||Best Actress in a Leading Role||Viola Davis||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Motion Picture – Drama||Widows||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama||Viola Davis||Nominated|
|Best Film Editing||Joe Walker||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Hans Zimmer||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association||Best Supporting Actress||Elizabeth Debicki||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Joe Walker||Nominated|
|African-American Film Critics Association||Top 10 Films||Widows||Nominated|
|Black Film Critics Circle||Best Actress||Viola Davis||Won|
|Broadcast Film Critics Association||Best Acting Ensemble||The cast of Widows||Nominated|
|Best Action Movie||Widows||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Joe Walker||Nominated|
|Dublin Film Critics Circle||Best Actress||Viola Davis||Nominated|
|IndieWire Critics Poll||Best Supporting Actress||Elizabeth Debicki||4th place|
|Las Vegas Film Critics Society||Best Ensemble||The cast of Widows||Nominated|
|London Film Critics' Circle||Supporting Actor of the Year||Daniel Kaluuya||Nominated|
|Supporting Actress of the Year||Elizabeth Debicki||Nominated|
|Screenwriter of the Year||Gillian Flynn||Nominated|
|British/Irish Actor of the Year||Daniel Kaluuya||Nominated|
|Los Angeles Film Critics Association||Best Supporting Actress||Elizabeth Debicki||Nominated|
|Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society||Best Supporting Actress||Elizabeth Debicki||Nominated|
|Best Action Movie||Widows||Nominated|
|Best Ensemble Cast||The cast of Widows||Nominated|
|National Society of Film Critics||Best Supporting Actress||Elizabeth Debicki||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Brian Tyree Henry||Nominated|
|North Carolina Film Critics Association||Best Supporting Actress||Elizabeth Debicki||Nominated|
|North Texas Film Critics Association||Best Actress||Viola Davis||4th place|
|Best Supporting Actress||Elizabeth Debicki||3rd place|
|Online Film Critics Society||Best Supporting Actress||Elizabeth Debicki||Nominated|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Gillian Flynn||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Joe Walker||Nominated|
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