Starring: Graciela Borges, Valeria Bertuccelli, Rita Cortese
Director: Marcos Carnevale
Running Time: 100 mins
Widows (Viudas) is an Argentinian film about a older woman who loses her husband to a heart attack, and in the aftermath of his death, she meets his young lover, whose own personal struggles change her world.
While I can’t say that Widows is the most stellar film I’ve ever seen, it does offer some fascinating drama throughout, with a riveting perspective on the struggles of grief, betrayal in love and mental health, brought together by two excellent performances throughout.
Now, it’s not the most common subject matter in film, but the complexities of the relationship between a widow/er and their spouse’s secret lover has cropped up on occasion in recent years, with one of the clearest examples of the premise being Taiwan’s Dear Ex.
However, while it’s a topic that’s ripe for brilliant emotional drama, few films tap into the dynamic between the two opposing sides like Widows, with the likes of Dear Ex unfortunately getting too caught up in the melodramatic sentiments of one of the characters, making for a more generic and underwhelming brand of personal drama.
That’s where Widows proves so riveting, because while you gain an insight into the individual struggles and turmoil of both the wife and the lover, that story only evolves through the relationship between themselves, bringing thought-provoking and genuinely engrossing ideas to the table throughout.
Above all, while the rights of the wife seem settled over those of her late husband young lover, the film’s key the introduces a fascinating dilemma surrounding the supposed value of each of the women’s grief, questioning whether the wife has the right to be so torn up following her husband’s death and the lover not, solely because of their formal marriage.
Of course, the balance between the two changes throughout the film, but it’s that brilliant blending of the emotional struggles of both parties into one main theme that really hits home here, and makes Widows overall a thoroughly engrossing watch.
And what’s more, while their characters are at odds through most of the movie, the two lead performances by Graciela Borges and Valeria Bertuccelli really help to bring the emotional gravity and depth of those central ideas work so well.
However, while there is a lot about this film that makes you think, I still have to say that it misses the opportunity to go one further and really hit you where it hurts. It’s a riveting and emotional drama, but the one thing I didn’t feel from it was a real sense of sympathy and captivation in the emotional turmoil of both women.
There are a couple of reasons for that, one is the fact that the doesn’t quite have the heavy dramatic atmosphere to make its story properly hard-hitting. I appreciate its intentions to steer clear of melodrama, which it manages for the most part, but I felt throughout that the film was a lot lighter and simpler than the thematic was actually demonstrating.
As a result, director Marcos Carnevale really fails to capitalise on an excellent story, and with that slightly lighter atmosphere throughout, created through all manner of areas including the lighting, camera work and music, has an impact on the way you anticipate the story’s development as a viewer.
So, rather unfortunately, when the story reaches a more optimistic point at which you anticipate things will take somewhat of a turn for the better, it only gets worse, and while that does make for a film full of surprises, they’re surprises that don’t feel entirely earned in the grand scope of things, taking away from what could have been an entirely enthralling and emotionally consistent film.
Overall, though, I must say that I was really captivated by Widows. It’s not an astonishing drama, and it never quite hits home as strongly as its potential suggests, however it does feature riveting and thought-provoking dramatic depth that’s brought to life with two excellent central performances, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.