Widows at HOME

Tom Grieve, Cinema Editor
HOME

Widows at HOME Manchester, Manchester 9 November — 13 December 2018 Tickets from £5 — Book now

Viola Davis brings together a group of women who inherit their criminal husbands’ debt in director, Steve McQueen’s riveting follow-up to 12 Years a Slave. Co-written by Gone Girl scribe Gillian Flynn, this reworking of Lynda La Plante’s 1980s television series was perhaps not the obvious next step for the director. It turns out genre suits McQueen, who works with a top-drawer cast for a focused, detail-oriented heist film that sympathetically captures the wider circumstances of its Chicago setting.

By opening with Davis’ Veronica kissing her husband Harry (Liam Neeson) in bed before smash cutting to the deadly aftermath of a robbery gone wrong, McQueen quickly lets us know what we’re in for. He cuts back and forth between the deafening carnage and quiet scenes of domesticity as we’re introduced to Harry’s accomplices and their wives, Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki). The style is clinical, glossy even, but brutally effective.

Grief-stricken by their husbands’ deaths, Veronica, Linda and Alice are also left in various states of destitution, a situation made considerably more precarious by the fact that the victim of the theft wants his two million dollars back. The money is all burned up, but Harry did leave behind a notebook with a detailed blueprint for his next score. With no choice but to attempt to execute Harry’s plan, the women set to work gathering equipment and intelligence for the task at hand.

The widows’ heist takes place against the backdrop of a race for political office in which Colin Farrell plays a candidate happy to stand on a podium presenting a scheme for black businesswomen, before irritably asking his girlfriend whether she has ever slept with a black man. This plot strand crosses and converges with that of the widows in ways best left unsaid, but it’s worth noting the grim menace Atlanta’s Brian Tyree Henry’s brings as a shady local opposition candidate and the impressive performance of Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya as his viscous, gangster brother.

Throughout, McQueen demonstrates that he is attuned to the various racial and economic realities of contemporary Chicago. In one standout long-take he places the camera on the bonnet of a car as we listen to Farrell’s character spit and shout inside. The camera is angled in such a way to capture in real time the transition from the economically deprived area in which the character has been speaking, through respectably leafy suburbs, to the ivy-covered mini-mansions of the street where he lives. They’re a hop, skip and a jump away, but worlds apart.

It becomes clear why Flynn was brought on board as Widows drives into its twisty final act. The material is schlocky and even darkly comic at times, and some viewers might take exception to the tricky plotting, contrivances and coincidences the script throws out. McQueen handles it well though, and even as the film moves into its breathlessly propulsive finale, it continues to find time for its characters and the nuances of the environments they inhabit.

Widows at HOME Manchester, Manchester 9 November — 13 December 2018 Tickets from £5 Book now

What's on at HOME Manchester

La Chimera
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La Chimera at HOME

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Horizons Festival 2024 at HOME
FestivalsManchester
Horizons Festival 2024 at HOME

As part of Refugee Week and in partnership with Community Arts North West, HOME present Horizons Festival 2024, a weekend-long celebration of theatre, film, art, performance, workshops and debate.

free entry

Where to go near Widows at HOME

Manchester
Restaurant
Indian Tiffin Room, Manchester

Indian Tiffin Room is a restaurant specialising in Indian street food, with branches in Cheadle and Manchester. This is the information for the Manchester venue.

The Ritz Manchester live music venue
Manchester
Music venue
The Ritz

The Ritz was originally a dance hall, built in 1928, has hosted The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and The Smiths and is still going strong as a gig venue now.

Homeground
Manchester
Event venue
Homeground

Homeground is HOME’s brand new outdoor venue, providing an open-air space for theatre, food, film, music, comedy and more.

Manchester
Café or Coffee Shop
Burgess Cafe Bar
at IABF

Small but perfectly-formed café – which also serves as the in-house bookstore, stocking all manner of Burgess-related works, along with recordings of his music. It’s a welcoming space, with huge glass windows making for a bright, welcoming atmosphere.

Rain Bar pub in Manchester
City Centre
Bar or Pub
Rain Bar

This huge three-floor pub, formerly a Victorian warehouse, then an umbrella factory (hence the name), has one of the city centre’s largest beer gardens. The two-tier terrace overlooks the Rochdale canal and what used to be the back of the Hacienda, providing an unusual, historic view of the city.

Manchester
Bar or Pub
The Briton’s Protection

Standing on the corner of a junction opposite The Bridgewater Hall, The Briton’s Protection is Manchester’s oldest pub. It has occupied the same spot since 1795, going under the equally patriotic name The Ancient Britain.

What's on: Cinema

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Jewish Culture Club

Meet new people, explore contemporary cultural works and learn about Jewish culture with Jewish Culture Club at Manchester Jewish Museum.

free entry
La Chimera
Until
CinemaManchester
La Chimera at HOME

Josh O’Connor leads a ramshackle band of grave robbers in Alice Rohrwacher’s stunning new film, La Chimera.

from £7.95
A still from Now, Voyager featuring Charlotte Vale played by Bette Davis.
CinemaLeeds
Now, Voyager at Cottage Road Cinema

Bette Davis stars as a wealthy young woman who escapes her domineering mother in this classic melodrama selected to show as part of Classics at the Cottage this June.

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Culture Guides