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The Widow of Saint-Pierre (2000)

La veuve de Saint-Pierre (original title)
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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)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 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
See  »

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

"Perfect Love Casteth out Fear"
7 March 2003 | by (Flagstaff, AZ) – See all my reviews

The ancient Greeks, gifted with an abstract way of thinking that was always trying to come down to earth and clothe itself with the commonplace occurrences of everyday life, did not have one all-embracing term for love, a we do, but broke it down into four types: affection (storge), friendship (phileo), sex (eros) and charity (agapao). And probably not since the ancient Greeks has a love story come along which not only divides love into its four types, but also weaves them, with enormous skill, into a single story. The Widow of Saint-Pierre is a love story of the tragic Greek proportions. It's an enormously beautiful movie, a story that gains power with every viewing. And for that reason, it's one of the most remarkable videos I've seen in a very long time.

We've all seen a plethora of films from Hollywood, which basically confine love, and the act of love, to eros. We all know the well-worn script. But what would it look like to view a film in which a relationship expresses all four types of love, and throbbing full force? I would be giving too much away if I were to tell you how these four types of love are rolled up so tightly into a single relationship, but that's exactly what we seen in the liaison between Jean, the Captain (Auteuil) and his wife, Pauline (Binoche). It's intensely interesting, because the performances are pitch-perfect. Even the cowardly bureaucrats, who feel threatened by the captain and his wife, are a picture of cowardly perfection. Their motives are all too human, all too real. But so is the unfathomable love they don't understand, and fear.

One of the things I really appreciate about this film is the way it expresses all forms of love as having boundaries. Jean and Pauline are not clinging vines. What we see is a mature, healthy relationship, each partner respecting the unique characteristics of the other. What a contrast to the infantile clinging vine romances out of Hollywood!

40 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Was Pauline (Madame La) in love with Auguste? luism1fan
Breed of horse? bizarrebehavior74
Claude and Michel Hazanavicius alweiss
Great movie butterfly5700
Madame La was the least sympathetic character I can remember slgr7
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