A charming, fairly light-weight
film, Widows' Peak gives us an odd but basically workable mix
of comedy, drama, murder-mystery, and suspense. In a small Irish
town, the "queen bee" Mrs. Doyle-Counihan (Joan Plowright)
rules society with an iron hand from her home on the eponymous
Widows' Peak, so called because all the inhabitants (other than Mrs.
DC's tied-by-the-apron-strings son) have qualified by means of a
deceased husband. Into this tight little society comes a stranger
named Edwina (Natasha Richardson) who seems determined to stir things
up; among eavesdropping biddies who love a good scandal, she has
quite an effect. But is there more here than meets the eye?
For the most part, the performances
in Widows' Peak are exaggerated, though fortunately not to the
point of being farcical. That's where the humor in the film lies,
rather than in any particular jokes. Joan Plowright's Mrs. DC is
quite the matriarch, while Natasha Richardson's Edwina is a total
vamp, complete with an assumed US accent that manages to push her
just a little bit over the top. Mia Farrow underplays a bit with her
role as Miss O'Hare, but it's reasonably effective in conjunction
with the other performances.
The mystery itself unfolds through
character interactions, as deep, dark secrets are revealed and we
find that all is certainly not as it seems. I found the plot to be
moderately interesting but not extremely compelling. If you are
interested in the characters, it won't be a stretch to enjoy the plot
that keeps them interacting with each other. All in all, Widows'
Peak ends up being a mildly enjoyable romp, one that takes itself
seriously enough to make things work, but that has enough of a tongue
in cheek to have fun with the exaggerated characters.
Widows' Peak appears in its
original widescreen theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, and is anamorphically
enhanced. It's quite an attractive transfer, with bright, lively
colors, an overall natural look, and a clean, crisp print.
The soundtrack here is very much
dialogue-centered, so there's not a whole lot for the various
surround tracks to do, but the overall sound quality is excellent.
The DTS and Dolby 5.1 tracks offer a pleasing sense of depth and
clarity; theres' not much use of surround sound, but it's a pleasing
audio experience. A Dolby 2.0 track is also included, as are English
and Spanish subtitles.
The only special features are a
trailer for the film and one for other New Line releases.
Widows' Peak is a minor film
that sets out to tell a charming story about mystery, murder, and
secrets in a small Irish town; it's generally successful in what it
does, as the performances by Joan Plowright, Natasha Richardson, Mia
Farrow, and others are slightly over the top but appropriate for the
overall tone of the story. It looks good in its DVD transfer, and
would make for a reasonable rental.