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

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  13 April 2001 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 4,734 users   Metascore: 72/100
Reviews: 69 user | 61 critic | 27 from

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.



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



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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


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


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


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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





Release Date:

13 April 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Viúva de Saint-Pierre  »

Box Office


FRF 100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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


$3,058,380 (USA) (27 July 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


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

Another great film by Patrice Leconte
27 March 2001 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

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.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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