Saturday 30 March 2024

Movie Review: The Handmaid's Tale (1990)

Genre: Dystopian Drama  
Director: Volker Schlöndorff  
Starring: Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth McGovern  
Running Time: 109 minutes  

Synopsis: In the near future, the United States has turned into the authoritarian Republic Of Gilead, a militaristic patriarchy governed by Christian fundamentalist doctrine. Pollution has rendered most of the women sterile, and fertile non-ruling class women are forced into servitude as handmaids to be impregnated by the powerful. After a failed escape attempt, Kate (Natasha Richardson) is captured and trained as a handmaid along with the feisty Moira (Elizabeth McGovern). Kate is assigned to The Commander (Robert Duvall) and his wife Serena Joy (Faye Dunaway), and meets their chauffeur Nick (Aidan Quinn). She is exposed to the hypocritical luxuries of the elite, and rumours of revolution.

What Works Well: Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel arrives to the screen with a screenplay (credited to Harold Pinter but with plenty of re-works) that admirably captures the complex story's essence. Using broad and efficient strokes, director Volker Schlöndorff crafts the societal context then focuses on Kate's nightmare abduction into sex slavery legitimized by twisted ideology. The grotesque ceremonial rape, the forced shaming of women by other women, and the public executions are punctuation marks in a narrative of religious extremism and intolerance run amok. The performances are necessarily cold, but Natasha Richardson is still able to convey Kate's repressed horror and steely inner strength.

What Does Not Work As Well: Ambitions exceed the budget, the relatively bland production design lacking uniqueness and sparks of imagination. The dialogue and acting occasionally suffer from a sense of rushed stiffness.

Conclusion: Praise be. 

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.