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The Widow of Saint-Pierre (2000)
"La veuve de Saint-Pierre" (original title)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  19 April 2000 (France)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 4,311 users   Metascore: 72/100
Reviews: 69 user | 61 critic | 27 from Metacritic.com

In a small French colony, a drunken man kills someone. While a guillotine is being shipped in, he changes, becoming a good and popular man.

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Pauline (Madame La)
...
Jean (The Captain)
...
Ariel Neel Auguste
Michel Duchaussoy ...
The Governor
Philippe Magnan ...
President Venot
Christian Charmetant ...
Supply and Secretariat Officer
Philippe du Janerand ...
Customs Officer
Maurice Chevit ...
The Governor's Father
Catherine Lascault ...
La Malvilain
Ghyslain Tremblay ...
Monsieur Chevassus
Reynald Bouchard ...
Louis Ollivier
...
Soldier Loïc
...
The Rear Admiral
Dominique Quesnel ...
The Proprietor
Anne-Marie Philipe ...
The Governor's Wife
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A true story of revenge and redemption, fear and forgiveness, and the true meaning of love.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a scene of sexuality and brief violence | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

19 April 2000 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A Viúva de Saint-Pierre  »

Box Office

Budget:

FRF 100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$31,702 (USA) (2 March 2001)

Gross:

$3,058,380 (USA) (27 July 2001)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was to be completely filmed on the island of Saint-Pierre, but when the snow failed to arrive, the production had to move further north to Newfoundland for certain sequences. See more »

Goofs

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 »

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User Reviews

Is this man too good to be true?

Juliette Binoche plays the wife of a military officer in a remote island town in 1849 Newfoundland who becomes devoted to the cause of saving the life of a condemned murderer. I was torn between admiring `The Widow of Saint-Pierre' for not taking the obvious route of having the captain's wife fall in love with her protege and run off with him (e.g., `Mrs. Soffel"), and a feeling of letdown that it was avoiding opportunities for more vivid and realistic drama. That there is an attraction between the two is made clear, especially in the highly charged, yet muted eroticism of the reading lesson scene. This film was based on a true story, but I couldn't help wondering if the actual killer was as saintly and devoid of guile as he seems in this movie. Among other things, he resists his attraction to his benefactress, although she would probably be more than willing to sleep with him, saves the life of a village woman whose house has slipped its moorings, and passes up an excellent chance to escape because he doesn't want to get anybody in trouble. He impregnates another woman, although it appears to be true love, and he then does the decent thing and marries her. One could accept that a criminal could be redeemed, but here he's a little too good to be true, reinforcing my suspicion that the characterization was meant more to reinforce the filmakers' anti-capital punishment stance than as a reflection of his actual personality. Daniel Auteil as her husband is stuck playing a character whose emotions remain largely inscrutable. The film would have us believe that there is no jealousy or resentment in the husband as his wife dedicates her life to rehabilitating and saving the condemned man under his charge. Ultimately, the captain gives up his own life for both of them, but I kept waiting for a significant sign that he had some inner conflict about doing so. After all, he is a career military officer sworn to uphold the law as it is. Who knew that underneath he was a bleeding heart liberal! This film is interesting and absorbing up to a point, but ultimately, it's also bland and overly complacent dramatically.


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