(Warning: A very light spoiler is discussed)
A deep, passionate kiss is shared by Viola Davis and Liam Neeson in the opening frames of “Widows,” immediately keying audiences into the fact that they’re not watching an ordinary crime thriller. This is a Steve McQueen crime thriller, by the director who won the Best Picture Oscar for “12 Years a Slave” and who also earned raves for his groundbreaking sex addiction drama “Shame,” starring Michael Fassbender.
“You will not see that,” Davis said of the intimate bedroom kiss between a black woman and white man depicted in the film. “I don’t care how much people say they’re committed to inclusivity — they’re not committed to that,” said the Oscar winner at a screening on the 20th Century Fox lot in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, attended by McQueen and other cast members.
It’s an opening scene that arguably hasn’t been done in film. As Davis put it, to have “the opening shot in this movie where you have a dark-skinned woman with a big nose and wide lips and all of that and her natural hair kissing — romantically kissing a white man onscreen.”
“Widows,” co-written by McQueen and “Gone Girl” writer Gillian Flynn, is a remake of a 1980s British TV show. The film version is set in Chicago. It revolves around the women left behind, mourning the deaths of their criminal husbands as they navigate survival in a crime world they’ve suddenly inherited. It also stars Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Farrell, Carrie Coon and Robert Duvall.
Rodriguez, also at Tuesday’s screening Q&A, chimed in on Davis’ thoughts on interracial love in movies: “The reality of the truth of the fabric of this country is multiracial. I can’t tell you how many Irish last names are on yellow, mixed race, African humans,” she said. “This is just a man who sees truth and he’s putting it on the screen,” Rodriguez added of McQueen.
“That right there has been elusive to me because of the way I look,” added Davis of her kissing scene with Neeson. “I’m just going to say it,” she added as the audience, mostly Screen Actors Guild members erupted into applause. “Steve [McQueen], he didn’t want to hear that… He saw me as this woman. I migrate toward people who actually see me. I actually do have a vagina,” she concluded as the crowd cheered and laughed.
“Widows” opens in theaters Nov. 16.