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Death and the Maiden (1995)



Average Rating: 6.4/10
Critic Reviews: 11
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 7,435

My Rating

Movie Info

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


Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Ariel Dorfman, Rafael Yglesias

Jun 3, 2003

Fine Line Features

Watch It Now


Latest News on Death and the Maiden

May 19, 2005:
Universal Gets Into a "Worst Case" Scenario
Veteran screenwriters Tom Schulman and Rafael Yglesias have sold their first collaborative effort,...


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All Critics (49) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (8) | DVD (9)

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.

February 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

May 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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).

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mr. Polanski treads lightly on the clumsier lines, and sustains tension by creating an elegant, unobtrusive dance with the camera.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Death and the Maiden forces the audience to confront questions about torture and punishment.

June 18, 2002 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Polanski keeps the situation ambiguous to provoke questions of guilt and responsibility.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's based on the gripping three-character play by Ariel Dorfman.

July 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

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.

February 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

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.

February 19, 2010 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Polanski kicks the movie up to a level of emotional violence rare in English-speaking films.

July 29, 2007 Full Review Source:

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.

June 12, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

A relentless, superb thriller.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

At once caustic and sincere.

July 3, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

Roman Polanski's underappreciated 1994 thriller Death and the Maiden confronts a litany of moral conundrums regarding guilt, revenge, punishment, justice, and man's responsibility to himself and society.

May 31, 2003 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Definitely worth watching, but goes a little OTT.

March 27, 2003
Hollywood Bitchslap

Weaver and Kingsley move.

October 3, 2002
Pasadena Weekly

They haven't made a stellar film like this in years. Wonderfully performed.

September 18, 2002

Probes the moral edge of anger that feeds the passionate pursuit of justice.

August 23, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Powerful story and acting, but fairly faceless direction from Polanski

July 30, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The premise grabs you early and the actors keep you watching.

July 26, 2002

Audience Reviews for Death and the Maiden

During a dictatorship in an unnamed latin american country, Paulina (Sigourney Weaver) was a dissident activist who was tortured in horrible ways and kept alive in order to confess the names of her comrades. Many years later, her husband arrives with a new friend, and she seems to recognize the stranger's voice as the man who inflicted her all that suffering.

Gripping stage bound psychological thriller that grows in intensity with each passing minute and conveys all the agony, anxiety, fear and thirst for revenge of a martyr who's now having her turn on the reins.

Excellent triad of actor.
February 4, 2009

Super Reviewer

An excellent drama. Sigourney Weaver plays a disturbed, paranoid ex-political prisoner in an unnamed South American country, married to a lawyer (Stuart Wilson) heading an investigation into allegations of torture under the old regime. She believes she recognises a chance visitor to their home (Ben Kingsley) as a man who raped and tortured her during her incarceration. A fascinating game with constantly shifting alliances ensues as she attempts to extract a confession of guilt from her captive 'guest'. All three lead performances are superb but Stuart Wilson excels, oozing flawed dignity as the idealistic but cowardly husband.
November 7, 2007

Super Reviewer

A raw and rough character-driven piece. Sigourney Weaver is wonderfully powerful as the woman turning the tables by taking hostage the man who raped and tortured her (Ben Kingsley). It doesn't get too nasty. The situation is very interesting.
August 15, 2007

Super Reviewer

A little gem from Polanski that no one saw. I haven't seen Sigourney Weaver act this well..ever. Kingsley is always great. I don't need to even say it.
February 2, 2008
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

    1. Paulina Escobar: In Democracy, knocking is friendly.
    – Submitted by myint z (2 years ago)
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Foreign Titles

  • Der Tod und das Mńdchen (DE)
  • La Jeune Fille et la Mort (FR)
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