Widows' Peak

Mia Farrow, who'll be 50 in February, displays a fresh-faced loveliness that belies her spinster role in this comedy mystery set in Ireland during the 1920s. In a script by playwright Hugh Leonard (Da) that aims to be charmingly old hat but is often merely mildewed, Farrow kicks in some potent surprises. There's a tough core of intelligence and wit in her Miss O'Hare. This film proves that her talent, tied to Woody Allen for the last decade, can still flourish outside.

When the usually staid Miss O'Hare starts seeing a local dentist, Clancy (Jim Broadbent), tongues wag wildly in Kilshannon — a village ruled by the wealthy widow Mrs. Doyle Counihan (Joan Plowright in high comic bluster). Miss O'Hare's behavior becomes even more aberrant with the arrival of Edwina Broome (Natasha Richardson), a sexpot war widow who attracts the eye of Mrs. Doyle Counihan's son Godfrey (Adrian Dunbar). Miss O'Hare hates the widow Broome on sight. Their bickering escalates to the point where foul play is suspected when one of the ladies disappears. Director John Irvin (Turtle Diary) strives to keep things perky, though the ending offers only a wee surprise. Were it not for the deft actors, Widows' Peak could be mistaken for a barely middling episode of Murder, She Wrote with greener scenery.

From The Archives Issue 317: May 15, 1980