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Death and the Maiden Movie Review

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Roman Polanski sets up a gripping dilemma here and then dribbles it. Why do we have to forgive the unforgivable? Why do we have to live and let live when we've been victimized by a person who clearly didn't care whether or not we lived or died? Three fine actors (Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver, Stuart Wilson) grapple with this situation for 103 minutes until the credits roll. In a number of ways, it rather reminds me of 1986's Extremities, where we are reminded over and over again that a reprehensible character deserves for the woman he raped to treat him like a human being. Can't someone, ANYONE else do that little thing? Polanski succeeds in making us feel as trapped as his characters, but the muddled, well-intentioned narrative thread tends to be unplayable at times, especially by Weaver, who has the hardest job here. Based on the play by Ariel Dorfman. AKA: La Jeune Fille et la Mort.

1994 (R) 103m/C Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Stuart Wilson; D: Roman Polanski; W: Rafael Yglesias, Ariel Dorfman; C: Tonino Delli Colli; M: Wojciech Kilar. Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards ‘95: Best Director (Polanski). VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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