Chicago action-thriller with Viola Davis expected to draw big crowds
Crusader Staff Report
The long wait is finally over.
“Widows,” a Chicago action-thriller that includes scenes at Parkway Gardens and Daley’s restaurant in Woodlawn, will open this weekend in local theaters in Chicago.
Anticipation has been building since film critics on the popular website gave the movie a 95 percent after it viewed at the Venice Film Festival last month and at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Steve McQueen, who became the first Black director to win an Oscar, for “12 Years A Slave” served as “Widows” director and co-author of the screenplay.
The movie stars Oscar winner Viola Davis, and Colin Farrell, who are part of the 16-member cast. Black actors Daniel Kaluuya, (Black Panther and Get Out), Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple on Broadway) and Brian Tyree Henry also star in the film.
In Chicago amidst a time of turmoil, four widows with nothing in common except high debts try to pull off a 5 million-dollar heist after their husbands are killed. Davis stars as Veronica Rawlins, one of the widows, who is also a longtime Chicago Teachers Union staffer.
Los Angeles Times film critic Justin Chang in his review said “Widows” “is a blisteringly cynical snapshot of a Chicago electoral campaign, where neither the slick incumbent’s son (Colin Farrell) nor the potentially groundbreaking African American candidate (Brian Tyree Henry) turns out to be a scrupulous or inspiring choice. Before long the campaign is mired in threats, shakedowns and ferocious acts of violence from both sides, leaving Veronica, Linda and Alice caught in the middle.”
The Chicago Sun Times film critic Richard Roeper called “Widows” a dazzling masterpiece.
Chicago-based Lawndale Productions began filming in May 2017. 20th Century Fox is the movie’s distributor. Producers filmed scenes on the city’s West Side and in Hyde Park before wrapping up production at Parkway Gardens, a 35-building complex that sits on less than an acre of land running from 6330-6546 S. King Drive.
One scene was shot at Daley’s restaurant, 809 E. 63rd St. Opened in 1892, Daley’s is Chicago’s oldest restaurant. After 126 years, the restaurant will soon relocate across the street to a new, bigger space in a mixed-use housing development.
The Chicago locations for “Widows” include five churches and a penthouse apartment in a Mies van der Rohe building on Lake Shore Drive, where Davis’ character lives. There is also a scene at the Waldorf Astoria hotel on the Gold Coast.
The Chicago Film Office in 2016 reported a record $1.3 billion was generated between 2011 and 2015. To boost film and television production in Chicago, filmmakers received a 30 percent tax credit on production spending, and a 30 percent tax break on employees who make $100,000 or more per year.
Not many movies and television series that are filmed in Chicago are made in low income Black neighborhoods like Parkway Gardens. What may draw filmmakers to these urban areas is the gritty image that they have in the news media. Miami’s Liberty Square housing project is still celebrating after “Moonlight” won Best Picture at this year’s Oscar awards. Now, Parkway Gardens is grabbing a piece of the limelight.