Warning: minor spoilers below
If you were expecting Widows to be the new Ocean’s Eight, you’d be sorely mistaken. Although billed as the newest female caper film, Widows ends up becoming so much more.
The film centers on three women — Veronica, Linda, and Alice — whose lives become entangled after their criminal husbands are murdered and leave an unsettled debt behind. Forced to come up with the money in their husbands’ absence, the ladies hesitantly take up a bank job all their own.
Prior to their husbands’ passing, each of these women had pretty much given over their lives to their husbands in one way or another. But now that they’re on their own, they’re seemingly bereft of everything. As a debt collector comes calling, the threads of ownership are laid bare and the women begin to calculate what’s left to their names, what they deserve, and whether they ever really owned anything in the first place. The heist offers them an opportunity to simultaneously repay their debts and explore their self-worth. But they soon realize that they can use their gender and position as bereaved wives to their advantage when they execute the robbery. As Veronica says, “the best thing we have going for us is being who we are… because no one thinks we have the balls to pull this off.”
Above all, the most refreshing thing about Widows is the characters’ lack of panache. On the surface, Widows is considered a heist film. But the slick, flashy shots and the “we’re-always-one-step-ahead” attitude found in traditional heist films are completely absent here. This isn’t the glitz of a diamond-studded Met Gala. This is Chicago’s south side, at the intersection of racial tension, government corruption, and ever-heightening crime. Nobody is here to make witty jokes or show off their clever cat burglar skills. The robbery is messy, and its orchestrators are reluctant. These women are only involved to repay their debts and restore the lifestyles they believe are rightfully theirs. They don’t have time to count dollar bills and take celebratory gulps of scotch over a job well-done. They’ve got shifts to juggle and kids to feed.
Ultimately, Widows is about so much more than robbing a vault full of money. It’s about the social injustices, both large and small, that women still face in a society that is largely maintained and manipulated by men. By orchestrating the robbery, these women are seeking restitution for more than just their bank accounts. They are looking to reclaim autonomy over their finances, their careers, and even their bodies after being made victims by their circumstances.
Widows made only a paltry $12 million in its opening weekend, less than a third of what the least commercially successful Oceans movie raked in. Yet, it has a poignancy and gravitas that gives the film smarter, more urgent stakes. It’s a showcase of grit and resilience and the refusal of perpetual victimhood.
If you haven’t seen Widows yet, I highly recommend you get to the movie theater ASAP. With an incredible cast and seasoned director, Widows has everything you could hope for in a film and more.
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Photo: Widows / Instagram
Michelle Vincent is a project manager and freelance writer. She enjoys traveling, is worried she won’t love her future children as much as she loves her dogs, and is actively recruiting podcast recommendations.