Widows (Blu-ray) (2018)
Featurette-Making Of-Widows Unmasked: A Chicago Story (52:10)
|Year Of Production||2018|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Steve McQueen|
Twentieth Century Fox
Brian Tyree Henry
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish dts 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
French dts 5.1
German dts 5.1
Italian dts 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) grieves when her husband Harry (Liam Neeson) with his gang are incinerated in their van during a failed robbery in Chicago. But her life takes even more of a turn for the worse when Veronica is visited by Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), a black racketeer. Jamal tells Veronica that Harry and his gang had stolen $2 million from him during the heist in which they were killed and gives Veronica 1 month to make good the money. Jamal is trying to go legitimate by standing in the upcoming alderman elections, challenging the incumbent alderman of the ward Tom Mulligan (Robert Duvall); the Mulligans have run the ward, and enjoyed the fruits of corruption, for two generations and now Tom, after suffering a heart attack, intends to pass the ward over to his son Jack (Colin Farrell).
Veronica recovers Harry’s notebook in which he had written down details of the jobs he has done, including for whom; he has also detailed his group’s next job in which they expected to steal $5 million. Veronica starts to think that she can to repay Jamal and start a new life with that amount of money. She approaches the widows of the other members of Harry’s gang and finds fertile ground; Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) has lost her dress shop due to her husbands’ gambling debts while Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), who was beaten by her husband, has been forced to sell what she owns and move back home with her unpleasant mother (Jacki Weaver). They later add Belle (Cynthia Erivo) to the group. As the women plan and set up the robbery, the political stakes between Jamal and Jack for control of the ward rise but a more immediate threat to them comes from Jamal’s enforcer brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) who has learnt of the existence of the notebook and is willing to kill to get it.
Widows, co-written and directed by Steve McQueen (Oscar winner for 12 Years a Slave), is based on the 1983 British television series of the same name written by novelist Lynda La Plante. The co-screenwriter is Gillian Flynn who wrote both the novel and subsequent screenplay of Gone Girl (2014). Together Flynn and McQueen have crafted a dense screenplay that, within the heist format, incorporates themes of political corruption, race, female empowerment and social advantage and disadvantage without losing focus of the fact that this is a character driven story. They are well served by the cast. Viola Davis, Oscar winner for Fences (2017), is compelling as the feisty, not suffering fools gladly Veronica, although the greatest story arc belong to Melbourne raised Elizabeth Debicki whose Alice develops from a woman beaten by both her husband and her mother to one prepared to take charge, however tentatively, of her life; her scenes at a car auction and while trying to buy guns are priceless. The other standout in the cast is Robert Duvall who, well into his 80’s, proves he has lost none of his fire or his ability to steal scenes!
Widows was shot by cinematographer Sean Bobbitt who keeps the camera fluid except where it comes in close on faces when it remains very still. Indeed, Widows, after the frenetic opening, takes its time to draw us in and to show us the characters and their various relationships; in pace, tone and music (by Hans Zimmer) Widows reminds one of Heat. Widows, indeed, is one of the best crime films of the year but it does falter; the first two thirds are dense and compelling and it is only in the final third that coincidences, loose ends and a twist that most would see coming means it falls short of excellence.
Widows is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.
The film has a mostly sombre colour palate; the costumes are dark, or in Veronica’s case, white, and a number of scenes take place at night or in darkened interiors. The main exceptions are the church revivalist meeting when brighter colours occur or when the van explodes in a fireball of yellow and red. Exteriors are brighter with quite glossy colours. Detail is strong, and the film does feature a number of extreme close-ups. The blacks are very black indeed, and shadow detail is sometimes deliberately indistinct such as a scene towards the end as the women approach a house in the darkness where what we see is only the vivid green leaves caught in a light. Skin tones are natural, contrast and brightness consistent, with one scene on a boat deliberately brighter. Marks and artefacts were absent.
English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available plus a range of European languages.
Audio is a choice of English DTS-HD MA 7.1, English descriptive audio (Dolby Digital 5.1) and French, Spanish, German and Italian DTS 5.1 and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1.
I do not have a 7.1 set-up and in the main the film does not need it, except in the opening section where the robbery goes wrong; here bullets fly all around, impacting on the metal and glass of the van, engines roar and the explosion as the van disintegrates in a fire ball rocks the room. Elsewhere this is a film of dialogue, which is not always clear when the subtitles help, and ambient sounds. The main exceptions outside the opening are the revivalist church meeting which is rich in sound in the rears and the score by Hans Zimmer which is effective, adding to the tone and mood of the film. Elsewhere effects, such as gunshots, are deep. The subwoofer supported the explosions, engines and the music.
There are no lip synchronisation issues
|Surround Channel Use|
A decent, reasonably comprehensive, extra in three parts Plotting the Heist: The Story, Assembling the Crew: Production and The Scene of the Crime: Locations although there is a “play all” option and the three sections do run naturally together. They use on-set footage, production and on set stills, concept art and comments at various times from director Steve McQueen, screenwriter Gillian Flynn, DP Sean Bobbitt, producer Iain Canning, cast Voila Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Robert Duval, Daniel Kaluuya, Brian Tyree Henry and Ann Mitchell (who had a role in the original Widows) as well as the executive producer, location manager, production designer, special effects supervisor and the pyrotechnic foreman. Things covered include the original Widows, the director’s techniques and working methods, changing the location of the story to Chicago, making it more than a heist film, the role of women, the 80 speaking roles, special effects and stunts, the characters and the actors who play them, Chicago locations, Chicago as a part of the story, filming in Chicago.
Approximately 24 movie stills plus a couple of on-set pictures. Silent: they advance automatically or can be advanced manually.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Except for some language and subtitle options this release of Widows is the same as the US Region Free Blu-ray.
To say that Widows reminds one of the excellent Heat is high praise. Widows features wonderful character acting by a fine cast, suspense, action and mystery in a dense and complex plot that, for most of the film’s running time, succeeds in delivering one of the best crime films of the year. The film may falter towards the end but that is probably only noticeable because of the excellence of the film until then.
The video and the audio are very good. The main extra is worthwhile and we get what is available elsewhere so cannot complain.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|