From the breathtaking opening scene, it's clear that Demme won't be content to sit back and preach. Inspired by the true story of a runaway slave driven to commit unspeakable murder rather than re-submit to her chains, Toni Morrison's ghost story takes the lid off the blistering, restless tumult, the 'screaming baboon' that is the legacy of American racism. When Paul D (Glover) arrives at the home of his old friend Sethe (Winfrey), he's confronted with a spectre of violence more powerful than he can comprehend, and peremptorily ousted by Newton's malign innocent, Beloved. On one level, this is pure horror, an extraordinary yarn of the supernatural, torture and abuse, physical endurance, hope crushed, love corrupted. The script has compressed the novel, but in struggling to honour its depth has saddled itself with a difficult and anti-climactic structure which draws you in, but keeps you waiting. That said, the film makes a good fist of approximating Morrison's densely textured, incantatory style, steers clear of sentimentality, and snatches heart-rending performances from Winfrey, Newton and Elise, as Sethe's daughter Denver.