An Emotional Steal (Film Thoughts: Widow)

F2vZraoViola Davis stars in ‘Widows,’ and the great thing about this film is that she anchors it. I think she is one of the best, and it is nice to see a movie built and revolving around her character. And she is great here – three dimensional, and she gets to show multitudes of emotions all at once, always effectively. She is always at the center, even as it is a great ensemble piece.

The film is about a bunch of widows whose husbands were all killed in a botched heist. But of course, there’s more to the story than that. Set in Chicago, director Steve McQueen has made an action-packed thriller that is very moody, and quite emotional. These wives set out to steal, but the actual heist happens in the last eighth of the movie, as if it was an afterthought. It gets built up from the melodrama, which is part grief story, and part story about political underpinnings. Along the way, we get twists and turns that can rival your best Mission Impossible (Gillian Flynne, of ‘Gone Girl,’ wrote the screenplay with McQueen) I thought the balance of these tones are sometimes a little too muddled, but it all pays off in the end. And we get great performances across the board. I loved Elizabeth Debicki’s dumb/vulnerable Alice Gunner and the underused Cynthia Errivo as Belle. In the end, this really isn’t my kind of film (I suspect it won’t end up as one of my favorites from the year) but I can appreciate it from afar.

Killing Fields (Movie Thoughts: The Killing Of A Sacred Deer)

kil‘The Killing Of A Sacred Deer’ is directed by Yorgoss Lanthimos, who directed ‘The Lobster.’  I cannot remember if I liked ‘The Lobster,’ (I guess I did, because I rated it four stars on Letterboxd) but I still remember that movie vividly – its weirdness was both amusing and disturbing.

I feel the exact same way about ‘The Killing Of A Sacred Deer.’ here I am, almost a day after seeing it and I can still see some scenes vividly in my head. I am still thinking about the ending, and last night I started to google what other people thought about it. I know the initial inspiration is from a Greek tragedy (Iphiginia in Aulis) but the film is very modern, and it plays with your mind. I know if it should play like a dark comedy, but for me it is just dark and disturbing. It isn’t horror in the strict sense (I was apprehensive in seeing it because of that) but it scares you.

Colin Farrel is fantastic, and is in the center of the piece. He plays a doctor who befriends the son of a patient who dies on his operating table. From the beginning you know there is something ‘off’ about their relationship, and if I say more it would be a spoiler. And is there a more fearless actress than Nicole Kidman. She is fantastic here, as the wife who sees her family disintegrate before her eyes. And Barry Keoghan is a revelation here – innocent, creepy, that little kid you thought you could squash but is more than a menace. There are some unbelievable circumstances in the plot here, but in these actors’ hands, you just go along for the ride.

I don’t know if everyone will like this movie, of course. But I bet it will creep you out, and I bet, like me, you will be thinking about it days after seeing it.