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Steve McQueen isn’t afraid to defy expectations.
“Widows,” a labyrinthine heist story about a group of Chicago women who have to complete a robbery put in motion by their dead husbands, sounds like a departure for the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind “12 Years a Slave” and “Hunger.” However, despite its thriller veneer, “Widows” is also concerned with poverty, prejudice, and power — issues that McQueen has addressed in previous films. It is as concerned with dramatizing the third-act caper as it is with examining how its characters criminality ties into larger urban corruption and exploitation.
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“It’s a genre picture,” said McQueen. “I liked the idea of going into a genre, but still having social realism involved. Chicago had all the elements that I wanted to investigate, those of race, class, religion, policing… It’s such a fertile narrative environment. It has this criminality that goes all the way back to Al Capone.”
The film, with a script by “Gone Girl’s” Gillian Flynn and a cast of heavyweights that includes Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, and Robert Duvall, also seems more commercial than McQueen’s previous efforts. Though “12 Years a Slave” won an Oscar and “Shame” attracted awards buzz, McQueen’s efforts to plumb the murky depths of the soul can make for difficult viewing. But the director balks at any intimation that “Widows” is a glossier outing.
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“I don’t understand why it would be more commercial,” said McQueen. “Commercial means that it’s going to be successful, and I don’t have any idea if that will happen. The only thing I can control is to make a good film.”
“Widows” will make its worldwide debut at the Toronto Film Festival. The annual celebration of cinema has hosted McQueen’s previous work and the director said he opted to have “Widows” unveiled in Canada because he appreciated the relaxed environment...
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