Death and the Maiden
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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 Miranda's voice, and accuses him of being the unseen doctor who had subjected her to… 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