Death and the Maiden
Time Out saysIn a newly democratised South American country, Escobar (Wilson) heads a commission investigating the abuse of political prisoners. One such prisoner was his wife Paulina (Weaver). When one night Escobar comes home late, having been given a lift by seemingly liberal Dr Miranda (Kingsley), Paulina is convinced that their guest is the tormentor who 15 year ago subjected her to sexual humiliation and violence. Escobar feels duty-bound to defend the stranger from the woman he loves, but who may be lying, even insane. In filming Ariel Dorfman's adaptation of his own stage hit, 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) and allows for a fluent, lucid exploration of notions of justice, responsibility, forgiveness, and corruption by power. At the same time, the three powerful, sensitively nuanced performances ensure that the characters never become mere mouthpieces for an ethical enquiry.