A mute woman along with her young daughter, and her prized piano, are sent to 1850s New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, and she's soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation.
In 1849, in the Archipelago of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, the drunken Ariel Neel Auguste and his partner Louis Ollivier kill for a futile motive (to see if he is fat or just big) the fishing boat captain Coupard. Nell, who stabbed the victim, is sentenced to die with his head severed in the guillotine while Louis is sentenced to hard labor. During the transportation to the prison under the custody of Captain Jean, there is an accident and Louis dies. While spending his days in the cell waiting for the guillotine and the executioner, Neel is invited by the captain's wife Mrs. Pauline to help her in her garden and becomes her protégé. Later he has a process of rehabilitation helping the locals in minor works and becomes very popular in the island. When he saves the building Café du Nord and her owner from sinking in the sea, his popularity increases and nobody but the governor and politicians of the council wants his death. Neel marries Eleontine Jeanne-Marie, but sooner he is informed ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The title refers in part to the French nickname "veuve" (widow) of the guillotine. Although the French dialogue often uses this word for the device, it is never translated as "widow" in the English subtitles. See more »
When Neel is told he's strong enough to "ramer jusqu'au chez les Anglais", the English subtitles say "row over to Canada" rather than "row over to the English". This introduces an error: both the geography and the dialogue in other scenes make it clear that Newfoundland is meant, but Newfoundland wasn't part of Canada until 1949. See more »
Neel Auguste (played by Kusturica) is condemn to death for a murder on the little island of Saint-Pierre, which was, and still is, a territory of France. The guillotine (commonly called «la Veuve») is the instrument of death in France at that time. But the island doesn't have its «Veuve» and one is to be sent from Martinique. In the waiting, the convict is kept in prison at the captain's (played beautifully by Daniel Auteuil) residence. The captain's wife (Binoche) is convinced that the murderer deserves a second chance and she's working towards that goal. In a typical American-style movie, the two would have fallen in love and ended up in the same bed. But not in this movie where Binoche is shown more as a humanist. I gave it a 9.
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