I was looking forward to this movie. I was intrigued by the idea of a heist film where the heist was motivated by the challenges women face in the world. The diverse cast includes Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo (who I had not heard of before but who was my favorite part of the movie), Daniel Kayuula, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Liam Neeson, and Robert Duval. Knowing that Steve McQueen was the director gave me a bit of a pause. I hated Shame but thought 12 Years a Slave was mostly a great movie. In both movies, I saw directorial indulgences which seemed pretentious and unnecessary. But Widows has a 8.1/10 critics score and a 3.3/5 audience score on Rotten Tomatoes so I thought I would probably like this movie.
It is a hot mess. The biggest problem is the script. It was only at the end of the movie that I learned the script was co-written by McQueen and Gillian Flynn. I find Flynn’s screenplays and novels unnecessarily convoluted and unbelievable. That is the definitely the case with this movie. Spoiler alert–skip the rest of this paragraph if you don’t want to know what happens in the movie. The fact that Neeson’s character is having an affair with one of the other widows was such a stupid plot development and had no bearing on the story. The scene in which Neeson’s character is on Farrell’s character’s boat was unnecessary and unrealistic. Why would they meet up to talk about the crime they’ve committed together? The answer: so that the audience knows why Neeson’s character robbed Henry’s. When Rodriguez’s character is trying to track down the architect, she found the woman’s home address but not her obituary? That’s not the way the Internet works. And don’t even get me started on the scene where she starts making out with the architect’s husband. And on and on and on. The script is a mess. I also was annoyed by some directorial decisions. For example, there’s a weird scene when Farrell’s character is traveling from a campaign appearance in a bad section of town to his own home. The scene is shot from the hood of the car he’s riding in and we see the neighborhood changing pretty rapidly from poor to wealthy. That was the point of shooting from the hood, I think. It’s a neat idea. But it’s a boring, poorly composed shot with too much of the hood of the car and not enough of the neighborhood visible. Couple that with the ridiculous dialog that we hear during the scene where Farrell’s character is asking his girlfriend/assistant whether she’s ever slept with a black man and you get what could possibly be the worst scene I’ve ever seen in a movie. Again, I could go on and on and on about these kinds of choices which took me away from what could have been a compelling story.
I really wanted to like this movie but the terrible script and some pretentious directing made me pretty much hate it.
I am currently Professor of Digital Media at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. I am also the current Coordinator of General Education at the University. I am interested in game studies, digital literacies, open pedagogies, and generally how technology impacts our culture.