Death and the Maiden
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This taut, psychological thriller begins in an unnamed South American country at a performance of Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" attended by a married couple; the music deeply troubles the woman. The story moves to a lonely beach house on a storm-tossed night. Therein Paulina prepares supper for her soon-to-return husband Gerardo. Shortly after hearing a disturbing radio broadcast concerning her husband, the electricity and the phone lines fail. Eventually her husband returns with Dr. Miranda, a stranger who picked him up after his own car broke down. Miranda graciously… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"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."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Mr. Polanski treads lightly on the clumsier lines, and sustains tension by creating an elegant, unobtrusive dance with the camera."
‑ Caryn James, New York Times
"It's based on the gripping three-character play by Ariel Dorfman."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Polanski kicks the movie up to a level of emotional violence rare in English-speaking films."
‑ Rob Gonsalves,
"At once caustic and sincere."
‑ Bill Chambers, Film Freak Central
"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."
‑ Todd McCarthy, Variety
"Death and the Maiden forces the audience to confront questions about torture and punishment."
‑ Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
"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."
‑ Kim Newman, Empire Magazine
"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."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"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."
‑ Nick Schager, Slant Magazine
"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)."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"Polanski keeps the situation ambiguous to provoke questions of guilt and responsibility."
‑ Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"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."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"A relentless, superb thriller."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"Definitely worth watching, but goes a little OTT."
‑ Oz, Hollywood Bitchslap
More reviews for Death and the Maiden on Rotten Tomatoes