Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA/Germany, 1990. Bioskop Film, Cinecom Entertainment Group, Cinétudes Films, Daniel Wilson Productions, Master Partners, Odyssey. Screenplay by Harold Pinter, based on the novel by Margaret Atwood. Cinematography by Igor Luther. Produced by Daniel Wilson. Music by Ryûichi Sakamoto. Production Design by Thomas A. Walsh. Costume Design by Colleen Atwood. Film Editing by David Ray.
Margaret Atwood’s famous science-fiction novel arrives on the screen with very little energy. Natasha Richardson plays a woman in a futuristic world where religious tyranny has taken over and women are enslaved to laws that require them to serve men. Richardson commits the illegal act of trying to leave the country and in doing so is put into the service of a Commander (Robert Duvall) who gets to take advantage of her rare fertility and force her to produce children. Meanwhile, she develops a bit of a romance with her owner’s chauffeur (Aidan Quinn) while revolution threatens to overturn the harsh rule of the government. The sci-fi aspect of it is thought-provoking, but director Volker Schlondorff emphasizes a boring visual outlay and Harold Pinter’s dry screenplay adaptation features very little tension.