Steve McQueen hasn’t made a feature film since 12 Years a Slave, but he returns this fall with Widows, a film that could not look more different from 12 Years if it was shot on the moon. The first trailer has been released, and I immediately watched it three times in a row. Holy sh*t. I mean, HOLY SH*T. A lot of it is Viola Davis being Viola Davis—“They don’t think we have the BALLS to pull it off” is my new favorite motivational speech—but it’s also flat-out action sequences from Steve McQueen. He comes from the world of visual art and his three feature films, Hunger, Shame and 12 Years, each have a staginess to them that doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone. They’re very constructed. But the Widows trailer has a car chase and stuff blowing up and a home invasion and all of it looks impeccable and kinetic. I’m reminded of Cary Fukanaga’s work on True Detective and Spike Lee’s Inside Man and Kathryn Bigelow’s films. And yet, there is still what I think of as McQueen’s signature, which is humans suffering in pristine environments. That shot of Davis grieving is perfect, her suffering so raw against the sterility of her bathroom.
Widows is co-written by McQueen and Gillian Flynn, adapted from a TV show, and it’s about four women (Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo) who have to pull off a heist to repay a debt their husbands failed to deliver on when their own heist went wrong. Colin Farrell is maybe a mob boss? He looks suitably menacing and seems to be holding something over Davis’s head. And the husbands include Liam Neeson and Jon Bernthal, which is how you know bad sh*t is about to happen. When Jon Bernthal shows up, bad sh*t ALWAYS happens.
I am super into the look of Widows, which is slated for a November premiere. You know what that means—fall festivals. And between McQueen and Davis, you can go ahead and factor Widows in as an early awards tip. It goes up against another presumptive award contender, Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk. That is also an assumed fall festival player. And it has a common bond with Widows, in the form of Atlanta star Brian Tyree Henry, who co-stars in both movies. Henry is currently nominated for a Tony for Lobby Hero. We should probably be paying attention to Brian Tyree Henry. We should DEFINITELY be paying attention to Widows.