Death and the Maiden (1994)
Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 49
Fresh: 41 | Rotten: 8
No consensus yet.
Average Rating: 6.4/10
Critic Reviews: 11
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 3
No consensus yet.
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 7,261
Ariel Dorfman's acclaimed play of the same name serves as the basis for Roman Polanski's drama, which depicts a politically and psychological complex battle of wills amongst three characters in an unnamed South American country. The trio in question is made up of Paulina Sigourney Weaver, her husband Gerardo Stuart Wilson, and Dr. Miranda Ben Kingsley, a seemingly friendly stranger who provided Gerardo with a ride home after a car breakdown. The trouble begins when Paulina claims to recognize
Jun 1, 1995 Wide
Jun 3, 2003
Fine Line Features
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Polanski certainly gets the maximum voltage and precision out of his story and actors, keeping us preternaturally alert to shifting power relationships and delayed revelations.
Kingsley shrewdly tantalizes the viewer about his identity, and gets to deliver the text's most riveting monologue at the end. The lesser-known Wilson may be the first among equals, impressing strongly as the equivocating husband.
Polanski wisely never opens out the action from the remote clifftop house. In keeping things claustrophobic, close-up and ambivalent, he heightens the suspense (not to mention the sexual tension).
Mr. Polanski treads lightly on the clumsier lines, and sustains tension by creating an elegant, unobtrusive dance with the camera.
Death and the Maiden forces the audience to confront questions about torture and punishment.
Polanski keeps the situation ambiguous to provoke questions of guilt and responsibility.
Even by their high standards, the performances of Weaver and Kingsley here are impressive, and Polanski ratchetts up the tension nicely. A chilling and thought-provoking piece.
The material is well served by director Roman Polanski, who knows well how to instill a subtle, claustrophobic sense of dread in an audience and has put together a rather elegant potboiler.
Polanski kicks the movie up to a level of emotional violence rare in English-speaking films.
Polanksi's direction is crisp and precise but he doesn't resolve basic problems of the stage-to-screen transfer: The tale is claustrophobic (mostly limited to one set) and schematic, with all three characters serving as ideological mouthpieces.
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- Der Tod und das Mńdchen (DE)
- La Jeune Fille et la Mort (FR)