Widows
The Windy City Serves as Setting for Adaptation of Brit Crime Series

Widows was a British TV series which enjoyed a two-year run from 1983 to 1985. Created by legendary English author Lynda La Plante (Prime Suspect), the popular crime show was nominated for a BAFTA award in the Best Television Drama category. In 2002, ABC turned Widows into a four-part miniseries starring Brooke Shields and Rosie Perez, but that substantially-revised overhaul failed to resonate with the American audience.

Now, Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen (for 12 Years A Slave) has brought a much more faithful adaptation to the screen, although the setting has been shifted from London to Chicago. The crime caper revolves around a trio of widows who opt to follow in their late husbands’ felonious footsteps in the wake of a botched bank heist.

McQueen assembled an A-list ensemble featuring Oscar-winners Viola Davis (for Fences) and Robert Duvall (for Tender Mercies), as well as nominees Liam Neeson (for Schindler’s List), Daniel Kaluuya (for Get Out) and Jacki Weaver (for Silver Linings Playbook and Animal Kingdom). The impressive cast also includes Colin Farrell and Michelle Rodriguez.

Not long past the point of departure, veteran bank robber Harry Rawlings (Neeson) masterminds a robbery in which he and his partners perish. Trouble is, Harry died indebted to a couple of South Side mobsters (Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry) to the tune of $2 million. 

Given a month to come up with cash (or else), Harry’s widow Veronica (Davis) hatches a plan to raise the money by burglarizing a safe in the mansion of a well-connected family headed by corrupt, Windy City Alderman Tom Mulligan (Duvall). To that end, she recruits a couple of the other grieving widows (Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki) and a getaway driver (Cynthia Erivo) with promises of a multimillion-dollar payday.

The plot proceeds to thicken in convincing fashion while touching on such timely themes as politics, loyalty, race and class. Since it would be a crime in itself to spoil the ensuing developments even one iota, suffice to say McQueen slowly ratchets up the tension in a searing, multi-layered suspense thriller not to be missed.

With the help of a delicious script expertly executed by a coterie of her talented co-stars, the incomparable Ms. Davis steals the show and delivers yet another Oscar-quality performance. Vintage Viola!

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for violence, sexuality, nudity and pervasive profanity
In English and Spanish with subtitles
Running time: 129 minutes
Production Studios: Regency Enterprises / Film4 / See-Saw Films / New Regency Pictures
Studio: 20th Century Fox

 

WIDE RELEASES

The Favourite (R for profanity, nudity and graphic sexuality) Olivia Colman portrays Queen Anne (1665-1714) in this biopic revolving around the bitter battle between the Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz) and a servant (Emma Stone) for the frail monarch’s friendship and affections. With Emma Delves, Faye Daveney and Paul Swaine.

If Beale Street Could Talk (R for profanity and sexuality) Adaptation of James Baldwin’s classic novel, set in Harlem, revolving around a pregnant teenager’s (Kiki Layne) efforts to free her fiancé (Stephan James) falsely accused of rape. With Regina King, Teyonah Parris and Colman Domingo.

Mortal Engines (PG-13 for action and violence) Post-apocalyptic sci-fi about a fugitive assassin (Hera Hilmar) who joins forces with an outcast (Robert Sheehan) and an outlaw (Jihae) to lead the resistance when the city of London morphs into a giant predator on wheels. With Hugo Weaving, Stephen Lang and Leila George.

The Mule (R for brief nudity and sexuality, and pervasive profanity) Clint Eastwood directed and stars in this crime thriller about a broke World War II vet who unknowingly agrees to transport $3 million in cocaine across Michigan for a Mexican drug cartel. Ensemble cast includes Bradley Cooper, Michael Pena, Laurence Fishburne, Alison Eastwood, Taissa Farmiga and Dianne Wiest.

Roma (R for profanity, graphic nudity and disturbing images) Upstairs/downstairs drama, set in Mexico in 1970, chronicling a year in the life of a middle-class family’s maid (Yalitza Aparicio). With Marina de Tavira, Carlos Peralta and Marco Graf. (In Spanish with subtitles)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (PG for action, violence, mature themes and mild epithets) Animated reboot of the Marvel Comics franchise revolving around the adventures of a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man (Shameik Moore) from Brooklyn, who is a half-black/half Puerto Rican teen. Voice cast includes Mahershala Ali, Hailee Steinfeld, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage, Zoe Kravitz and Chris Pine.

 

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Capernaum (R for profanity and drug use) Coming-of-age tale about a young Lebanese boy (Zain al Rafeea) who sues his parents (Fadi Yousef and Kawsar Al Haddad) for neglect while serving a 5-year sentence for attempted murder. With Yordanos Shiferaw, Cedra Izam and Nadine Labaki. (In Arabic and Amharic with subtitles.)

The House That Jack Built (R for nudity, profanity, grisly images, sadistic behavior and disturbing violence) Matt Dillon plays the title character in this suspense thriller about an architect/serial killer reflecting upon each of the murders he had painstakingly-planned over the course of his 12-year spree. Supporting cast includes Bruno Ganz, Uma Thurman and Riley Keough. (In English, German and Italian with subtitles.)

The Second Time Around (Unrated) Romance drama about a couple of senior citizens (Linda Thorson and Stuart Margolin) who fall in love upon meeting at a retirement home. With Alexis Harrison, Jayne Eastwood and Don Francks. 

The Wedding (Unrated) Romance drama, set in NYC, about a virgin bride-to-be (Nikohl Boosheri) who has no idea her orthodox Muslim fiance’ (Sam Abbas) has a gay lover (Harry Aspinwall). With Hend Ayoub, James Penfold and Mihir Chitale. (In English and Arabic with subtitles.)

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