The Widow of Saint-Pierre Movie Review
In 1849, we find ourselves on a French island colony near the Canadian coast, a cold and inhospitable land with few inhabitants. In a night of drunkenness, Auguste (Emir Kusturica) and his friend kill a local man. Auguste is sentenced to die. The only problem -- there's no guillotine on the island, and no executioner either.
While Auguste waits for his mode of death to arrive from Paris, he is put into the employ of the local police chief (Daniel Auteuil) and his wife (Juliette Binoche). Auguste proves truly repentant, and before long he's saved a local woman's life and has become the town hero. By the time the guillotine (the "widow" of the title) arrives, the townsfolk -- and the chief -- are in full revolt, demanding Auguste be spared. But the local politicians, and the king in France, have a different agenda.
The story is compelling, and the friendship that develops between Auguste and Binoche's Pauline is a powerful story arc. Unfortunately, director Patrice Leconte makes some bad choices, using a handheld camera at various askew angles and employing shock zooms for much of the movie. The MTV style histrionics are a poor match for the somber, depressing period piece, and they distract significantly from an otherwise solid picture.
Aka La Veuve de Saint-Pierre, The Widow of St. Pierre.