Milton Smythe (Shawn Milsted) is distraught over the death of his wife; so distraught, that he can’t bring himself to tell anyone she has died. As he begins to lose his marbles, he drags the corpse around town in an attempt to relive the glory years of his marriage. His nosey neighbor is on to him, but Smythe is able to get away with his bizarre behavior primarily due to two cops who are more concerned with snacking than doing their jobs. Director Marcus Rogers utilizes an exceptional vocabulary of tasteful shots while constructing this narrative, and the shooting elevates the pace of this obviously low budget picture. The camerawork saves some of the more languishing scenes and the campy tone of the film is reflected nicely in the color scheme of the set designs and costumes. There are also some cleverly conceived fantasy sequences thrown in.
The primary problem with the pacing of the story is the amateurish acting. In a film like this, a stand out or two can really save the film. It weighs hard on my conscience to lay a movie like this on the performers, but even some poor acting with a little more energy might have pushed this story into another realm. For a film about a guy tearing up the town with his dead wife, the performances are just too muted. There are small roles pushing in and out of the story that occasionally raise a chuckle, but Smythe as the protagonist is not a very compelling character. Putting the weight of acting like an old man on an inexperienced actor is an odd choice. There are times when it seems Milsted could be pulling off the character if he didn’t have to attempt to look feeble. Also problematic is the makeup meant to make Smythe look like an old man is also wholly unconvincing under the scrutiny of the amount of time he spends on camera.
The DVD from Alternative Tentacles includes a disc of the soundtrack, which features solid tracks from punk and lounge bands that underscore scenes. With some technical proficiency and a decent soundtrack pushing the story along, the movie still manages to be tedious. But Rogers has good ideas and knows how to swing a camera. Although it drags a little too often, The Widower is not without its charm. (Alternative Tentacles, PO Box 419092, SF, CA94141)