By Connor Carey
In 2013, Steve McQueen made one of the most powerful and devastating movies I’ve ever seen in 12 Years a Slave. That film ended up being not only my absolute favorite film from that year, but the winner of the Best Picture Oscar. How could anyone possibly follow that up? Well, McQueen sure knows how to, because Widows is one of the most stylish, engaging and flat-out awesome crime sagas I’ve seen this decade.
I was skeptical going into Widows at the Toronto International Film Festival; although the cast, crew, and trailers had gotten me on board, I couldn’t help but think this movie looked a little generic and that McQueen wasn’t the right fit for this type of film. I was also really concerned that with a cast this big and talented, some of the performers would be underused. Oh boy, was I ever wrong.
The cast is the best place to start in praising this film. The filmmakers couldn’t have found a better leading lady in Viola Davis. Unsurprisingly, she absolutely crushes it; she may soon be looking at another Oscar nomination. The other three leading ladies are all excellent too. Cynthia Erivo might not have extended screen time, she proves herself to be a star in the making. In addition, Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki both are so good, I would love to see their names considered in the Best Supporting Actress category this winter. I connect with Rodriguez’s character the most, while Debicki has by far the best arc. I feel that this film will really break out Debicki to mainstream audiences.
Aside from the four leads, Daniel Kaluuya nearly steals the show. He might be a few scenes short of receiving major of buzz for this role, but he commands every inch of the screen when he’s on. The rest of the supporting performances are all very solid too. Each cast member has at least one moment to shine, and no one feels underused.
Writer Gillian Flynn and director Steve McQueen take a premise that has been done to death and make it something truly unique. The way that Widows unfolds its twists and turns is honestly quite genius. This is the type of movie that you should go into knowing as little as possible, because I was surprised both with the depth of the plot and by a particular reveal. The slow burn pace also pays off in the explosive third act.
Out of the 23 movies I saw at this years Toronto International Film Festival, Widows is the most satisfying and the one that has stuck with me the most. I hope that this is a hit both financially and critically, because it really deserves to be. Widows is one of, if not the best movie of the year so far.