Death and the Maiden

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1 1/2

Content: -3 1/2

The setting is an isolated cottage on a stormy night somewhere in South America. The interaction is between a bitter, frightened woman, Paulina Escobar (Sigourney Weaver), her lawyer husband, Gerardo (Stuart Wilson), and a visiting stranger, Dr. Miranda (Ben Kingsley). Several years earlier Paulina was brutally violated and tortured by the just-ousted regime of the country. Gerardo has been named by the new president to investigate the atrocities. Convinced that the stranger is the very doctor who repeatedly raped her, Paulina demands his confession or death. The doctor maintains that he is innocent. Gerardo does not know whether to believe his wife or Dr. Miranda. But he must learn the truth in time to save the doctor's life as well as his own job. While it has suspense and good acting, DEATH AND THE MAIDEN is basically a cruel, ugly film.

Every disgusting detail of Paulina's sadistic torture is described several times. However, it is hard to care about her because she is full of vengeful hatred and treats the doctor brutally. She makes him a prisoner by pushing his car off a cliff, then tells him he must confess he raped her or die. This becomes a night of torture as she repeatedly slaps him in the face, tapes his mouth, ties him up, pistol whips and shoots at him. At the same time, she is verbally assaulting in vulgar and obscene ways. It becomes clear that only his death can satisfy her. All three spout obscenities and profanities throughout their ordeal. Gerardo is too morally weak to defend the doctor even though he thinks the visitor may be innocent. The only positive emotion expressed is Gerardo's gratitude to Paulina for once saving his life. Even that becomes suspect as she questions him about his sexual affairs at the time. Their heartless treatment of each other as well as the vile way the three talk is so offensive that the doctor's guilt or innocence becomes trivial.

Preview Reviewer: Margaret Reid
FineLine Features, 575 8th Avenue, 16th Flr, NY, NY 10018

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several (8) times - Moderate

Obscene Language: Many (53) times (f-word 20, s-word 15, other 18)

Profanity: Many (20) times - Regular 14, Exclamatory 6

Violence: Continuous - Moderate and severe (pistol whipping, shooting, slapping, bloody hits to head, wrestling for weapons; torture described in graphic detail)

Sex: None

Nudity: Few times (woman's breasts)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Man fondles wife; many references to crude sex, female anatomy and rape

Drugs: Drinking alcohol treated as acceptable; two men get drunk; cigarette smoking

Other: Woman forces man to urinate in front of her

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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