Widows ★★★½

A few random thoughts:

* I always thought Steve McQueen was a weird choice to do an action film, right until 15 seconds into this film, when I remembered that the unifying thread of his filmography, from the fecal spreading of HUNGER to the jogging of SHAME to the whipping of 12 YEARS A SLAVE, is tactility. While calling this an "action film" is overpromising - it's a crime film - it's strongest for me when action comes to the fore. I'd love to see him go full elliptical, POINT BLANK-style or something.

* I can now say that I've filmed in the same location that Steve McQueen has. My friend's band played the Fireside Bowl 15 years ago, and I was there!

* This film cares way more about aldermen than I do. In general, it seems to struggle with the "if you care about everything, do you care about anything?" question. There's certainly a central theme of power, money and control, but it's one whose net is cast so wide as to render it more a general setting than a specific critique. It might not be five seasons of THE WIRE in one movie, but it's at least two.

* The above bothers me a little bit because there seems to be a bit of press of "this is what's going on in Chicago TODAY!", as if Steve McQueen were suddenly the first filmmaker to bring the news to our front door, and while I haven't seen CHI-RAQ to be offended on behalf of Spike Lee, I'm certainly seen THE INTERRUPTERS. This is admittedly way more a marketing criticism than a proper filmic criticism, but anyway.

* Elizabeth Debicki drove me nuts in THE NIGHT MANAGER, but those same qualities look a lot better when we're not meant to sympathize with somebody falling stupidly in love with her. The scene where she buys three guns might be my favourite of the movie.

* If there's a point that cinephiles inevitably reach where they're completely and utterly annoyed with technical virtuosity, I'm creeping up on it. My least favourite shots were the most complicated, and some of them slowed down the film simply to show off.

* There's a few broad edges here and there that really undercut the whole enterprise, mostly lines of dialogue that are on the nose but also a few shopworn cliches like "let's talk shit about our boss who's quietly listening in the darkness". This tension was particularly strong with Daniel Kaluuya's character, where his performance was very strong but the character felt overly engineered to create optimum dangerous/callous badass.

* I suspect I might like this a lot better on a second viewing. There were a lot of moments I really liked, much more than this collection of thoughts makes it sound.

Doug liked this review