The 62nd BFI London Film Festival gets underway today with the Opening Night Gala screening of Steve McQueen’s Widows, kicking off twelve days of the world’s best cinema featuring featuring a diverse selection of 225 feature films from 77 countries, including 21 World Premieres, 9 International Premieres and 29 European Premieres.
The film sees McQueen, Oscar-winning director of 12 Years a Slave, teaming up with Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn for a heist thriller based on Lynda La Plante’s iconic 1980s TV series. Updating the action to contemporary Chicago, it casts a steely Viola Davis as the perilously debt-strapped widow of a master criminal (Liam Neeson) who recruits fellow grieving spouses Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki, plus spunky outsider Cynthia Erivo, to complete the robbery planned by her late husband. Unfortunately, the dead men stole £2million from local gangster turned on-the-make politician Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry). And he wants his money back. The movie doesn’t entirely pull of its uneasy mix of gloss and grit, and its twists are far too blatantly signposted to generate any suspense. At times, too, the film’s political subtext acts as a drag on the action and the heist itself falls surprisingly flat. But the cast is terrific.
Widows screens at Cineworld Leicester Square at 7pm and at the Embankment Garden Cinema at 7.45pm tonight, and at the Embankment Garden Cinema on Thursday 11th October at 2pm and at the Odeon Tottenham Court Road on Friday 12th October at 8.40pm, and goes on general release from Friday 6th November.