The Irish Famine of 1845-1847 was both a great tragedy and a turning point in Irish history. 1847, the worst year of the famine is also the setting of Vanessa Perdriau’s short film The Widow’s Last. It’s a harsh tale set in harsh times, one about choices, humanity and redemption.
Kathryn Healy (Charlotte Peters, Pound of Flesh) is a young widow struggling to keep herself and her young son Michael (Sam Hardy, Muse) alive during the worst of the famine. Not only is food in short supply, her son has been stricken with the deadly fever that the famine seems to have brought with it.
When she stumbles across an injured English land agent (Matthew Wolf, Passengers) she’s forced to choose between her hatred of the English for what they’ve done to her and her people and her basic humanity. She must also weigh the consequences her decision may have with regards to her neighbours and their reaction to it.
Running twenty-two minutes, The Widow’s Last is a film that forces the viewer to confront their own values and prejudices as we watch it. How would we react to finding, one of those responsible for our suffering helpless? Could you justify leaving them to their fate? There aren’t any easy answers, and the film doesn’t pretend there is.
The Widow’s Last is anchored by strong performances from Peters, Wolf and Damien Hasson as Kathryn’s neighbour Sean. It’s also helped by cinematographer Andy Catarisano. Just as the script captures the best and worst of the characters, the cinematography shows both the beauty of the land and the nasty muddy reality of it as well.