Critic Reviews

72

Metascore

Based on 19 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
91
Death and the Maiden doesn't always escape its contraption origins, but it ends with one of the most honest-and poetic- reckonings of human evil in modern movies. It's Polanski braying at his own bitter moon.
89
Austin Chronicle
Death and the Maiden is a streamlined razor-ride of a movie: taut, riveting, and a psychological horror show that will leave nail-marks in your palms for days afterwards.
80
Even by their high standards, the performances of Weaver and Kingsley here are impressive, and Polanski ratchetts up the tension nicely. A chilling and thought-provoking piece.
75
Death and the Maiden is all about acting. In other hands, even given the same director, this might have been a dreary slog.
75
Rolling Stone
Polanski, working from a fluid script by Dorfman and Rafael Yglesias ("Fearless"), gives the story its due. He creates an atmosphere of claustrophobic tension to rival his "Knife in the Water" and "Repulsion".
75
Polanski directs the film without a wasting a moment. The occasional humor does nothing to relieve tension but, as in a Hitchcock picture, has a way of increasing it.
70
Chicago Reader
Even though he's psychologically expanded his source, the material is a bit too schematic to work as much more than a scaled-down thriller.
70
Salon.com
It's an exceptionally intelligent and controlled piece of direction, and for once Polanski didn't hide his emotions in a death's-head grin. The movie is raw and passionate and unresolved in a way that's unique among his work.
63
There's not much mystery here; there's only one outcome that could possibly make dramatic sense. And once you realize that, there's not much to do besides watch some very adept performers chew on their lines.
50
Polanski abandons all attempts at subtlety. The resulting production ends up far too heavy-handed to be considered powerful drama.

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