What’s a Blog-a-thon? This blog-a-thon is a challenge, its participants have chosen films the other has not seen to watch and review.
November Blog-a-thon criteria: Hidden 90’s Gems
Why Sam Chose This Film For Marcey: “I like picking movies for Marcey, our tastes seem relatively in tune, and more than anything she’s someone I can recommend anything to, even the most challenging stuff I can think of. Death and the Maiden is certainly up among that group. It’s clearly a stage adaptation, but that actually plays into this oslow burning thriller’s hands, with the claustrophobia of the limited sets heightening the tension and paranoia that run through it. I hope Marcey will enjoy, as I do, the three excellent performances (even from Ben Kingsley, who, to be frank, I usually don’t rate) and the ambiguity of the storytelling. It’s a rather unusual and excellent nerve jangler, and one that, sadly, still feels very relevant to today’s political situation”
Marcey’s Review: I can generally always rely on Sam for recommendations, as he stated above our tastes are generally in tune and he rarely steers me wrong. Whether I like a film he has recommended to me or not, they are generally usually very interesting and unique in their own right. Death And The Maiden was a film I had not heard of, and I felt like perhaps I should have, with Polanski as director and it starring Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley and Stuart Wilson. I certainly entered this film filled with wonder, and I tried to stay as in the dark as possible. This proved to be quite the experience, and one that will keep me thinking for some time to come.
The premise here is quite simple, yet deep down very complex. It takes place mostly within a house, belonging to Paulina Escobar (Weaver) and her husband Gerardo Escobar (Wilson). We can see early on that something isn’t right with Paulina, and we find out she was a political prisoner years earlier, and her husband is a newly appointed member of the human rights commission who will help their (unnamed Southern American) country with the sins of the past. It is clear Paulina’s own past haunts her, and she snaps when a mysterious doctor suddenly shows up in their lives (Kingsley) on this one stormy night. She is convinced this man was her torturer, and this intense game begins with finding out the truth.
This is actually a rather ambiguous film, the audience is really left to fend for themselves. Is this man lying? Or did he really torture Paulina and countless others? It also leaves one wondering whether people can change and how people do react when put into a position of such power. I do find films very interesting when they leave the audience pondering things, and certainly this leaves us with lots to think about. It brings forth ideas of guilt and responsibility, and makes us wonder how we personally feel about these things.
This is a film with three central fantastic performances, each bringing something different to the table. I have always been a fan and an admirer of Weaver, and this was very different for her and just harrowing to watch. Kingsley who has been more miss than hit lately, certainly hits this out of the park and it reminded me of why I am a fan, his final speech is intense and it hits hard. Wilson was great, and I do liked how his performance changes with the different feelings his character goes through. Yes this was based on a stage play, and it feels like it. Polanski is a master at bringing these types to film format, and this a very strong effort. It is an intense ride that I am glad I took, it feels just as relevant today as I am sure it did back upon release.
Check out the other reviews for Blog-a-thon: Sam @24fps, A.J. @CineSlice, Mike @EFilmBlog and Bede @SM.com.
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