Edwina is a mysterious new arrival in Widow's Peak, so called because only widowed ladies can reside there. There she woos the son of Mrs Doyle Counihan, who is in charge of the community and a fall out with Mrs Broome and Miss O'Hare lead to scandal and mystery in the community.
At first, this appears to be an Irish take on the "chick flicks" that include Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistlestop Cafe and Enchanted April: wonderful actresses in lovely period costumes exchanging barbed whimsicalities in what is half gentle comedy and half almost-buried nastiness. In the 1920s, the imperious Mrs. Doyle Counihan (Plowright) rules over an Irish community known as Widow's Peak because the terms of a lease agreement insist only widowed ladies of quality are allowed to take up residence. When Mrs. Edwina Broome (Richardson), a flamboyant Englishwoman with an American accent, swans in, she immediately makes a play for Mrs. Counihan's son (Adrian Dunbar) and a successful match seems in the offing. However, a disagreement between Mrs. Broome and Miss O'Hare (Farrow), a slightly daft old maid, expands into a bitter feud, old scandals are trotted out, and when someone mysteriously disappears in the lake, the town is abuzz with talk of murder. Rural Ireland is green, beguiling and polite, but deadly quarrels are set at picturesque regattas, motoring trips, dances, fetes and cinematograph shows, and the film pootles along pleasantly enough but it seems as if the point is a very long way off. Then, as the characters drop hints that their hidden secrets may be even more surprising than expected, the script turns clever with a series of genuinely surprising surprises. The final twists aren't unguessable, but there's a real delight in the way assumptions are reversed and the film takes a scythe to its first reel tweeness and pays off with everyone getting what they deserve.
Conventionally directed by John Irvin (Hamburger Hill), this has more bite than you'd expect.