Who would have thought a British arthouse director could pull off one of the most interesting Hollywood action thrillers of the year? Well, me for one.
I’ve been tracking the unstoppable rise of Steve McQueen, the director behind the sleeper hit Widows and always had my money on him knocking it out the park. McQueen is a singular talent who sets his focus on the things that truly matter. In this case the underlying notions of survival. What would we be willing to do to save the skin off our back?
There is a palpable energy that pervades McQueen’s storytelling. From Hunger to 12 Years A Slave, he holds us accountable by coaxing us to keep the medicine down. McQueen does an impressive job of infiltrating the subconscious, implanting sobering truths about the depravities of mankind, namely the deep distinctions between rich and poor & white and black.
“The only two things that matter to me in my life are love and justice."
While there were obvious flaws in the dense plot, it was swept under the rug by the rich cast of characters. Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo paint such an honest picture of life in the shadow of the patriarchy, of yearning to break free from the tyranny of their male counterparts.
Chicago is the perfect playground to highlight the raging inequalities of modern life. It brought to mind a screening of my thesis film BUG a few years ago. I was humbled to be one of the few foreigners in attendance, the screening room predominantly filled with African American women from Chicago’s south-side.
Watching their faces as I fielded questions was particularly sobering. As much as I wanted to put myself in their shoes, it dawned on me that I would never understand the depths of their suffering. And so I stand with Steve McQueen in praying for a future led by women. Without the love and guidance of our better halves, we’re toast.
In the words of Mister Señor Love Daddy; That’s the double truth, Ruth.