'Widows' at the 62nd BFI London Film Festival

11 Oct 2018

2 mins
'Widows' at the 62nd BFI London Film Festival

London's Leicester Square was a-buzz with A-list talent last night, as 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen and the cast of his new film Widows attended the opening night gala of the 62nd BFI London Film Festival.

The highly anticipated heist movie follows four widows of a crime caper gone wrong, as they set out to finish what their late husbands started, and boldly go down a path that no one expects them to. Or so they hope...

Our reporter Eleanor attended the red carpet gala event and spoke with the film's lead, Viola Davis, about the lessons audiences can learn from her character Veronica, and the difficult decisions she makes throughout the film. Check out Davis' response in the video above.

Widows is released in the UK on 6 November 2018.

Viola Davis at 'Widows' London Film Festival premiere
Viola Davis speaking to Into Film reporter Eleanor at the premiere of 'Widows'

To find out more about Steve McQueen and how you can explore his films in the classroom, download our film guides for two of his acclaimed earlier films, 12 Years a Slave and Hunger.

Eleanor reviews Widows

In the future, I will re-watch this film to remind myself of all the current world problems: corrupt politics, police brutality, the inequality between men and women and how money is valued over honesty. McQueen's thriller, Widows, quietly and cunningly comments on socio-political issues, whilst simultaneously playing with the themes of love and hate through the ensemble of couples.

Viola Davis dominates the screen and narrative as her character Veronica, a determined, businesslike woman who must face the death of her ring-leader criminal husband whilst sorting out all the problems he left behind and repay a million dollars to a rival gang. At first Veronica seems lost in this foreign underworld. However, she sets out to recruit the wives of her husband's gang members to form her own gang to reclaim the money that has put them all into debt. 

The trio - Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki and Michelle Rodriguez - are the driving force that makes this film so engaging and enjoyable to watch. Each one of their characters is perfectly fleshed out and unique so that they each have their own time and space on screen. However, the cliché "girl power" does not apply here in this narrative, but rather pure female determination. Viola's character says, that if these women are going to obtain the money they desperately need, that you must be "smarter than you are now".

I hope that when I watch Widows again, the poster will celebrate the amount of BAFTA and Academy Award nominations received, especially for the stand-out performance by Daniel Kaluuya who plays the role of Jatemme, the leader of the opposing gang. I had previously seen Kaluuya in Skins and Get Out, playing roles that are likeable and kind. However, Jatemme is the most cruel and spiteful character in the film: looking closely, you could probably see evil running through his veins. In one scene, Jatemme leads his gang into an apartment to attack a defenceless man. Jatemme gives the signal for his gang to attack as he callously walks to the other side of the room, relaxes into an armchair and watches television with the volume on full.

Whilst the performances are stunning, it is the cinematography that really blew me away and makes this a truly thrilling thriller. One of the most innovative uses of the camera is how it draws out the socio-economic themes of the film. Towards the middle of the film, Colin Farrell's character, Jack Mulligan, a political figure, is seen giving an inspirational talk to residents on a poor side of town. As he leaves, the camera tracks him as he gets into the car, yet the frame remains on the outside of the car, filling the screen half with the car and half with the passing neighbourhood. As Mulligan continues to talk through the scene, it is impossible not to detach from what he's saying and instead focus our attention on the passing houses, which are getting grander and grander. Throughout the scene, the camera never cuts away and when Mulligan finally reaches his gated house, it is clear that McQueen is showcasing the inequality in today's world. Those with wealth lecture those in poverty about the world we live in, whilst being utterly out of touch with what it is like to live in poverty.

McQueen's film needs to be seen on the biggest screen you can find, with the loudest speakers to amplify Hans Zimmer's suspenseful score, to totally immerse yourself in this shadowy picture of the underworld of the present day. When it has become a cult classic, I will drag my nieces and nephews to see a 20th anniversary screening of Widows and tell them how it was my favourite film of 2018.

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