The Widow of St Pierre 2002 ****


Another gem from writer and director Patrice Leconte, The Widow of St Pierre is a skilful melodrama which deals with the subject of the death penalty; set in Newfoundland in the mid 19th century, it features director Emir Kusturica as Ariel, a killer who is sentenced to death. The isolated community lacks a guillotine, and during the delay while one is sent from the mainland, Ariel wins over the hearts and minds of the locals, including Pauline (Juliette Binoche) and Jean (Daniel Auteuil). He appears to be rehabilitated; so does he still have to die? Based on a true story, this is a chilly but accomplished drama, with strong performances and one incredible sequence in which Ariel rescues the township from a runaway house.


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