Death and the Maiden (1995)
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Critic Reviews for Death and the Maiden
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.
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.
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.
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.