A period drama set during Ireland’s Great Hunger in 1847, The Widow’s Last follows struggling widow Kathryn (Charlotte Peters) who comes across an injured Englishman Edmund (Matthew Wolf) in the woods. After almost allowing her anger to get the better of her, she ultimately decides to take him in despite already caring for her sick son. But will she end up turning him in to her friend Sean (Damien Hasson) who’s bent on revenge on the English, or protect him despite the risk of being found out? Writer/director Vanessa Perdriau shows that this part of Ireland’s history is an interesting backdrop to explore themes of forgiveness and humanity with her debut short film.
Firstly, the overall production of the film is stunning. The setting is perfect, and it doesn’t go to waste since there’s plenty of beautiful drone shots of the landscape establishing it at the start. This contrasts well with a grim-looking scene of Charlotte clawing through mud for some kind of food to get by. In addition, the costumes and set dressing are immersive, undoubtedly feeling of the time, with the aesthetic being comparible to Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale.
Peters gives a wonderfully sympathetic performance as Kathryn, and depicts the struggle of grappling with the potential for cruelty and inhumanity in a relatable way. Having Hasson’s character of the unforgiving Sean alongside her further adds to the sense that giving in to anger would be easy and the act of forgiveness is the harder choice.
The timing of the release of The Widow’s Last is apt as we all go through such a tumultuous and unrelenting time. The film is a reminder that this isn’t exclusive to our era or generation. The film is now available to watch for free here, and the twenty-minute run time goes by fast thanks to Perdriau’s well-paced writing.