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 heist film directed by Steve McQueen from a screenplay by McQueen and Gillian Flynn, 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 their husbands before they are 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, 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, a renowned thief, is killed alongside his partners during a botched robbery. His widow Veronica is threatened by crime boss Jamal Manning, from whom Harry and his partners stole $2 million. Jamal needs the money to finance his campaign for alderman of a South Side ward, where he is running against Jack Mulligan, the next-in-line of a dynastic family who have historically dominated the alderman position. Veronica discovers Harry's notebook which contains a detailed plan for a heist in the sum of $5 million.
She decides to carry out the plan to repay her debt to Jamal, and recruits two of the other widows, Alice and Linda, to assist her. The fourth widow, Amanda, does not show at their initial meeting. Alice acquires Glock pistols and a getaway van at a car auction while Linda is tasked with deciphering a blueprint in Harry's plan. Alice uses a real estate executive with whom she is in a transactional relationship to identify the blueprint as a safe in Jack Mulligan's home.
When Veronica's loyal chauffeur Bash is murdered by Manning's crew, Linda recruits Belle, her children’s babysitter, to be their driver. When Veronica visits Amanda and notices Harry's flask on a table, she deduces that Harry is the father of Amanda's newborn child. Devastated by Harry's infidelity, Veronica leaves. Veronica visits the Mulligan home to ask Jack for protection from Manning—a request he rebuffs—and to case the premises in advance of the heist, while Belle is busy scanning the property for cameras and security guards. Veronica acquires the code to the safe by blackmailing the CEO of the Mulligans' security company, using incriminating photos left in Harry's notebook.
The heist begins but the women are startled when Jack's father Tom appears and shoots Alice, badly wounding her. Linda quickly returns fire and shoots Tom dead. They obtain access to the safe and escape with the money, but are caught by Jamal's brother Jatemme, who subsequently steals it from them. The group chases down Jatemme, ramming his van off the road into a median, killing him, and retrieves the money. The group then splits up and goes their separate ways, with Veronica returning to the hideout. Harry, who had faked his death and set up his partners after being hired by Jack, arrives at the hideout to steal the money from Veronica so that he can build a new life with Amanda. Veronica shoots Harry dead before he can kill her first.
Jack wins the position of alderman on a wave of public sympathy following his father's murder. Linda reacquires the store that had been seized from her after her husband's death left her with large debts. Alice sets up her own business, while Belle moves away. With Manning no longer a threat, Veronica donates the bulk of her share to improve the school library to honor the memory of her deceased son. Veronica and Alice happen upon one another in a diner. They initially ignore each other, but Veronica warmly greets Alice outside.
- Viola Davis as Veronica Rawlings, a Chicago teachers' union delegate and Harry's wife
- Michelle Rodriguez as Linda Perelli, a clothing store owner and Carlos' wife
- Elizabeth Debicki as Alice Gunner, Agnieszka's daughter and Florek's wife, who becomes a sugar baby to support herself after her husband's death
- Cynthia Erivo as Belle, a babysitter and beautician who looks after Linda's children, and works with Veronica's group
- Colin Farrell as Jack Mulligan, Tom's son and a politician who is mixed up in the widows' plans
- Brian Tyree Henry as Jamal Manning, Jatemme's brother, a crime boss and politician, who believes Veronica is indebted to him
- Daniel Kaluuya as Jatemme Manning, Jamal's brother and his mob enforcer
- Garret Dillahunt as Bash Babiak, the Rawlings family chauffeur
- Carrie Coon as Amanda Nunn, Jimmy's wife, a widow, who is not involved in the robbery
- Jacki Weaver as Agnieszka, Alice's abusive mother
- Robert Duvall as Tom Mulligan, Jack's father and a power broker at odds with his son
- Liam Neeson as Harry Rawlings, partner of Carlos, Jimmy and Florek, Veronica's husband and a renowned bank robber
- Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Carlos Perelli, Linda's husband who is a gambler and partner of Harry, Jimmy and Florek
- Jon Bernthal as Florek Gunner, Alice's abusive husband and partner of Harry, Carlos and Jimmy
- Coburn Goss as Jimmy Nunn, Amanda's husband and partner of Harry, Carlos and Florek
- Molly Kunz as Siobhan, Jack's young campaign manager
- Lukas Haas as David, a real estate developer with whom Alice develops a transactional sexual relationship following Florek's death
- Kevin J. O'Connor as Bobby Welsh, a disabled bowling alley worker who was formerly involved with Harry
- Matt Walsh as Ken, the CEO of a security company
- Michael Harney as Sergeant Fuller, a corrupt cop involved in a conspiracy
- Jon Michael Hill as John Wheeler, an inspiring reverend at a Chicago church visited by Jamal
- Josiah Sheffie as Marcus Rawlings, Veronica and Harry's deceased son
- Adepero Oduye as Breechelle
- Ann Mitchell as Mrs. Nunn, Amanda's mother
- Chuck Inglish as Darius
- Sir Michael Rocks as Malik.
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.
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.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 91% based on 376 reviews, with an average rating of 8.1/10. 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' 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 & 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
|Organisation||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result|
|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||Giliian Flynn||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Joe Walker||Nominated|
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