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With the help of Rafael Yglesias and Ariel Dorfman, Roman Polanski has adapted Dorfman's three-character play about a former political prisoner (Signourney Weaver) kidnapping a doctor (Ben Kingsley) she believes was her torturer, while her lawyer husband (Stuart Wilson) serves as a go-between (1994). 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. By plunking three characters down in a remote location beside a body of water Polanski revives some of the triangular tensions found in his Knife in the Water and portions of his Cul-de-sac, but this comes across as a less personal work than either of those films or Bitter Moon, and is intermittently hampered by the mental adjustments that have to be made to accept English and American actors playing South American characters. Even so, Polanski certainly gets the maximum voltage and precision out of his story and actors, keeping us preternaturally alert to shifting power relationships and delayed revelations. It's refreshing to see this mastery given that there's so little of it around.

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