Widows Peak

Widows Peak (1994)
New Line Home Entertainment
Cast: Mia Farrow, Joan Plowright, Natasha Richardson
Extras: Trailer

Directed by John Irvin, "Widows Peak" is one of those whimsical films that will have you smile, giggle and laugh for its entire running length, and well beyond as you begin to re-iterate scenes from the film in your mind over. It is not a flat-out funny comedy but an eloquent and charming film with countless hilarious moments and a general feel-good sense. It is brimming with excitement and constantly bubbles under the surface as the movie caricatures stereotypes and places them in the lush backdrop of a 1910 Irish small town.

"Widows Peak" is the name of a community in Ireland. The name – as you may have guessed – is a result of widows congregating upon the hill, creating a subculture of their own in which no one is admitted unless she is a well-off widow. Elitist to the bone, rich and decadent, these women and the neighboring small town are ruled by Mrs. Doyle-Counihan (Joan Plowright) as she imposes her moral and ethic values on everyone within her reach.
One day a new widow arrives. A young, sexy stranger by the name of Edwina Bloome (Natasha Richardson). The only man in Widows Peak – the mother hen’s son Godfrey (Adrian Dunbar) – quickly takes a liking to the newcomer while others, such as Miss Catherine O’Hare (Mia Farrow) take an immediate dislike. And so starts a story of intrigue and feuds as everyone is vying for Mrs. Doyle-Counihan’s attention, but within weeks it turns into an outright battle that includes even something as dastardly as murder!

It is so much fun seeing the story unfold as you watch it that I do not want to give away much more than this brief synopsis. The plot is filled with little nudges, twists and most importantly great characters that have been brought to live marvelously by the cast. Mia Farrow’s Irish accent may not be entirely convincing but the rest of the film is. The nuances put into the personae, the wonderful backdrop of Ireland, the witty dialogues all meshes together so well that "Widows Peak" is a memorable comedy experience that sometimes reminded me of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" in its ability to create a constant chuckle and the incessant battle of wits between the two main characters.

New Line Home Entertainment is bringing this 1994 film to DVD in yet another one of their trademark sparkling transfers. Entirely devoid of blemishes and speckles the image is wonderfully clean and stable. In a handful of shots some grain is evident as a result of the film stock used in the production but it is never distracting from the viewing. The film handles the contrasting image well with deep blacks that render deep shadows and firmly root the picture and highlights that are sharp and well-defined throughout. Interiors have a warm color palette that is never washed out, adding to the lush production design. Skin tones are absolutely faithful at all times while all shades and hues are also reproduced without any flaws. No edge-enhancement is evident giving the transfer a smooth, film-like look and since the compression is free of artifacts, the image also holds an incredible amount of detail that brings out every little wrinkle in the costumes.

New Line is serving up a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> track on this DVD as well as an optional <$DTS,DTS> track. The film is mostly dialogue-driven so surround usage is never aggressive, but still the track manages to create subtle ambient effects that heighten the experience through their surround usage. The wonderful music by Carl Davis also has a wide sound stage to work with adding to the experience as the sound production weaves its magic, subtle yet efficiently.

Unfortunately there are no extras on this release other than the movie’s trailer and bonus trailers for other Fine Line films

"Widows Peak" is a gem through and through. It may seem like a regular period piece but in fact the elements of blackmail, seduction, murder, scandal, rivalry, intrigue and vendetta make it so much more. It gives a well-worn genre that new polish it needs to be refreshing and attractive once again – and trust me, "Widows Peak" is more than only attractive. It is a killer! Make sure to check it out. I haven’t had so much fun with a film in a long time.