Death And The Maiden Review
By Christopher Null
Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley are together in Roman Polanski's new film, Death and the Maiden, a haunting and powerful work of genius. Based on the acclaimed stage play, the story goes that Weaver is the wife of rich South American lawyer/politician Gerardo Escobar (played by Stuart Wilson), and they live alone in the wilderness of this unnamed country. One day, Dr. Miranda (Kingsley) shows up at the house after helping Escobar with a flat tire, and he comes in for a drink.
Paulina (Weaver) begins to inexplicably break down after his arrival, going so far as to sneak out of the house and destroy Miranda's car. Only when she returns do we discover the shocking reason for this insanity. Paulina suspects Miranda was the doctor who tortured and raped her 15 years earlier: the doctor, she says, who played the Schubert composition "Death and the Maiden" while he applied his evil ministrations. Paulina then turns the tables, tying Miranda up, beating him, and holding an impromptu trial to get his confession to the deeds.
Weaver is absolutely on fire in this role. I couldn't believe my eyes or ears watching her on screen. Kingsley is excellent as well, and he does a great job of keeping you guessing "Did he or didn't he?" Even Wilson, as the up-and-coming lawyer who stands to have his career (and mental health) ruined by the night's events, is convincing in his balance of logical thought and passion for his wife.
Death and the Maiden lacks that gritty edge-of-your-seat suspense but makes up for it with a sick-to-your-stomach feeling through Paulina's recreations of her torture. As a study of paranoia, mental anguish, and the morality of revenge, Death and the Maiden is a stunning success.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Wednesday 29th March 1995
Distributed by: Fine Line Features
Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 41 Rotten: 8
Cast & Crew