Widows Review: Is Viola Davis eyeing up another Oscar?

Widows hit cinemas this week, an action-thriller from the Academy Award winning director of 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen. He teams up with an all star cast that includes Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Daniel Kaluuya and Michelle Rodriguez.

A group of women are left heartbroken and financially broken when their husbands are killed during an attempted heist. Now they are left to pick up the pieces and pay back the money their husbands owe.

From the very beginning, Widows is an emotional rollercoaster. In the first five minutes alone, McQueen sends you back and forth between moments of intimacy and love, edited in stark contrast with action and violence.

As always, it is a pleasure to watch Davis at work. As Veronica she manages to bring complete subtlety to the character, allowing us to mistake this for naivety, and matches this with dramatic explosions of emotion.



The latter can be a tricky thing to pull off. In one scene, her character sits alone in a bathroom, screaming and crying into a mirror. This does feel a little unrealistic – but it is certainly a refreshing display of emotional vulnerability that was necessary in humanising the character.

In an interview with the BBC that later went viral on Twitter, Davis explained the significance behind the opening scene where she shares a bed with her on-screen husband Liam Neeson.

Davis, 53, said: “The film begins with me in bed with Liam Neeson, and we’re kissing, and it’s a sexualised kiss. Here I am, I’m dark, I’m 53, I’m in my natural hair… and I’m with Liam Neeson. I’m with what America would consider to be a ‘hunk’.

“He’s not my slave owner. I’m not a prostitute. It’s not trying to make any social or political statements. We’re simply a couple in love. And what struck me in the narrative is that I’d never seen it before.”


The diversity of this cast is one of the film’s greatest strengths, with a range of racial backgrounds and talents that merge together to create something truly special.

Davis does get free rein to showcase her abilities but the supporting performances all certainly hold their own. Kaluuya is terrific and portrays perhaps one of the cruellest villains in a mainstream film that has been seen for some time. It is not completely out of the question to imagine him in the Best Supporting Actor category at the Oscars this year.

It is the women in this film that really have a moment to shine, though. Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Erivo, along with Davis, create such a powerful dynamic as a group that works perfectly in convincing you that they really could pull off this heist together.




The storytelling and acting performances alone are enough to make this film worth watching, but that matched with the stylistic camerawork from McQueen makes it simply unmissable.

Despite the film being near perfect, there is still much discussion about whether Widows is really an Oscar type of film. This narrative is reminiscent of the Get Out conversation last year, which ultimately led to people grossly underestimating it’s abilities (and an Oscar win for Jordan Peele).

As shown in the film, being underestimated can sometimes work in your favour. With such a strong group of talent, it is hard to imagine a world where this film isn’t rewarded on the biggest scale. The best thing, Veronica says, that the group have going for them is being who they are, because “nobody thinks we have the balls to pull this off.”


Words and featured image: Christian Onions | Subbed: Tabitha Durrant

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