WIDOWS – Review by Susan Granger

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Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) and co-writer Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) have come up with a compelling crime caper that has more twists and turns than a corkscrew!

Living in a luxurious penthouse high above Lake Michigan on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, elegant, educated, union organizer Victoria Rawlings (Viola Davis) never paid much attention to her felonious husband Harry’s (Liam Neeson) shady business – until one of his robberies goes awry and she’s left a widow, along with the wives of his crew.

In her grief, Victoria’s accosted by ambitious politician Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) and his psychotic/enforcer brother (Daniel Kaluuya). Jamal’s in a heated political campaign for local alderman against corrupt Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), who hopes to ‘inherit’ the seat recently vacated by his ailing father, Tom (Robert Duvall). Apparently, Harry owes Jamal a couple million dollars.

Left with little choice but settle her husband’s debt, Victoria assembles the other despairing, penniless wives (Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki) in a posh sauna, where they begin to plot a $5 million theft, following an intricate strategy that Harry left in a meticulously detailed notebook. Later, they’re joined by an intrepid getaway ‘driver’ (Cynthia Erivo).

“Yes, our heist-planning involves Tupperware,” Victoria explains. “You got a problem with that?”

Based on a British television series, the gritty script by McQueen and Flynn tackles issues of poverty, race, gender, class, politics, religion, and police brutality – as the savvy women use other people’s clichéd expectations of them to their advantage. And the complicated backstory of each of the complex characters is thoughtfully delineated.

“I wanted to get the biggest, broadest audience I could possible get,” McQueen says, “while at the same time not letting go of the things I believe in intellectually, philosophically and politically.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Widows” is an empowering 8, as women steal the show.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.