Time has spared the 21st century from the Great Famine when the Irish died from starvation and disease. Director Vanessa Perdriau ‘s story recreates the dread, hatred, and fear that marked a time when the song of the season was a dirge. We get a chance to re-live 1847 Ireland in the period-drama, The Widow’s Last.
Synopsis: Ireland, 1847; A destitute young widow desperate to save her dying son, must make a choice, but is the cost of survival worth the price of her humanity?
We “fade-in” on a young destitute woman digging in the dirt for planted crops, she unearths a rotten, uneatable potato and hopelessly squashes it. Kathryn has a son who is covered in sores from fever, dying of hunger, and storage of a single loaf of bread. It quietly dawns on us that we are witnesses of a raging famine.
The lonely, harsh but beautiful countryside boasts of a lone-neighbor, a man burying his dead wife, Mary wrapped in cloth. The discussion between Kathryn and Sean reveals the English as antagonists. Later, Kathryn scavenging encounters an Englishman bleeding from a gunshot wound inflicted by Sean. Kathryn struggles between her hatred for the English and her humanity to save the English Landlord (Edmund). She caters to him in her cottage while protecting him from Sean, then sends him on his way.
Audiences will find the Irish landscape a remarkable and unmistakable character in this short movie. It is against this backdrop that Vanessa drops her characters to deploy an emotionally powerful period-drama. One filled with a mixture of humanity, famine, sadness, and utter hopelessness, yet it resolves into a story of forgiveness, sacrifice, and redemption.
Vanessa masterfully weaves her story with Irish history, tradition and culture to convey a human-centered story that reminds us how much we are not independent of one another. A widow sacrifices everything to save an enemy who crushed her people, yet returns the gratitude and saves her and her son from the gnawing hunger of death.
It holds your breath! It drives your empathy! It propels compassion with great ardour! And it’s a great movie!
With her debut short, director Vanessa Perdriau has produced a powerful, moving film that examines the nature of our humanity, anchored by outstanding performances. At its core, it is a profound story of forgiveness, sacrifice, and redemption, poised to keep you on the edge of your seat. Ultimately, this short narrative deserves to be photographed into a feature film. A lesson a wider world sorely needs in these dire times of mistrust and injustice.
Writer & Directed: Vanessa Perdriau
Sam Hardy as Michael
Damien Hasson as Sean
Caoimhe O’Shea as Mary
Charlotte Peters as Kathryn
Matthew Wolf as Edmund
Produced: Luke Walton, Jackie Sheppard, Christopher Gray
Cinematography: Andy Catarisarno
Colorist: Steffan Perry
Composer: Luke Atencio
Casting Director: Ros & John Hubbard
Sound Designer: Richard Addis