Directed by John Irvin. Starring Mia Farrow, Joan Plowright, Natasha Richardson, Adrian Dunbar, Jim Broadbent, Anne Kent. (1994)
REVIEWED By Alvaro Rodriguez, Fri., June 10, 1994
There's a twist at the end of the mostly excellent period mystery Widows' Peak that'll probably have the masses chatting nearly as much as The Crying Game did. Luckily, it's not the only twist in this clever British thriller set in the 1920s Kilshannon, Ireland. Widows' Peak is the morbid nickname given to the hilly overlook where the town's rich and mostly elderly widows (p)reside. Chief among this tribe is Mrs. Doyle Counihan (Plowright in another dizzyingly delightful role), who lords over a committee of well-to-do women with an iron fist. The somewhat sheepish Miss O'Hare (Farrow with a tickler of an Irish brogue) also sits on the committee of gossipmongering widows, and she takes a sudden dislike to a village newcomer, a British-American widow named Edwina Broome (the sly-eyed Richardson), ostensibly because, being a good Irish woman, she hates the Brits. Fortunately, everyone else in Widows' Peak takes a quick liking to the eccentric Edwina, including the matriarch's sole son, a “mammy's boy” named Godfrey (Dunbar) and all think Miss O'Hare has gone off the deep end when she accuses Edwina of malicious deeds. What ensues is a viper's dance of mischief doubled over on itself, and it goes against what the filmmakers dub “widow's honor” to tell any more of the tale. What should be said is this: Director John Irvin, known mostly for his action films (Next of Kin, Hamburger Hill, and Raw Deal) and less for his one semi-comedy (the Ben Kingsley-Glenda Jackson pairing Turtle Diary), handles the plot elements of Hugh Leonard's (Da) script with wit and a sharp sense of pacing. Farrow, who's had a connection to the script for over a decade, hasn't looked as fiery and fun in many a Woodman film. Richardson is likewise superb here, and hopefully this type of film with its mainstream/crossover potential will showcase her talents better than her previous performances in The Comfort of Strangers and The Handmaid's Tale (both great roles). Plowright has mastered the grand dame part exquisitely, and she's plenty fun here. Widow's Peak will keep you riveted to the screen, guessing and laughing to the top.