Anger is an emotion with a moral edge. In its finest moments it feeds the passionate pursuit of justice. This raw and unruly emotion is given center stage in Death and the Maiden, set in a South American country.
Sigourney Weaver gives a mesmerizing performance as Paulina, a woman who as a university student was picked up by the police, tortured, and raped. When her husband, a lawyer, brings home a guest, Dr. Roberto Miranda (Ben Kingsley), she is convinced he was one of those who tortured her. She takes him captive in her living room, determined to find out the truth about him and, if possible, to free herself from the prison of pain and fear that she has lived in for so many years.
Director Roman Polanski makes the most of the tensions at the heart of this political thriller adapted from Ariel Dorfman's play. In Death and the Maiden, the personal and the political are so intertwined that memory, truth, love, betrayal, sex, and violence are all on trial as the three characters circle each other with accusations, denials, and piercing questions. The finale of this thriller is cathartic and points to the positive value of righteous indignation.