The French word veuve (widow) also means guillotine. In 1850 a killer (Emir Kusturica) is condemned to death by guillotine, on an island where there is no such device; the local captain (Daniel Auteuil) must send away for one. Meanwhile, the killer ingratiates himself with the townsfolk, especially the captain's wife (Juliette Binoche). Issues of life and death, love and friendship play out delicately and powerfully. Binoche is especially subtle and radiant in another splendid drama from Leconte.
--By Richard Corliss