Cinecom Pictures | Release Date: March 9, 1990 CRITIC SCORE DISTRIBUTION
Mixed or average reviews based on 24 Critic Reviews
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The Seattle TimesMichael Upchurch
Taut, powerful, brilliantly lit, The Handmaid's Tale casts a spell, even as it spells out its dire warning. [09 Mar 1990, p.20]
If there can be a best-selling novel with a cult following, Margaret Atwood's feminist-futuristic The Handmaid's Tale qualifies. I'm not sure if the screen version has the stuff to become a cult movie - but if so, credit timeliness, visual style and a few performances. Most of all, timeliness. [07 Mar 1990, p.4D]
Dutifully bleak, suitably oppressive, the film delivers Atwood's desolate who-owns-our-bodies? indictment with intelligence and probity. [09 Mar 1990, p.25p]
As a film, The Handmaid's Tale, effectively compressed in Pinter's terse screenplay and heightened by Schldondorff's Teutonic thriller techniques, both subtracts from and adds to Atwood's novel, while scrupulously preserving its interior paradox. [09 Mar 1990]
There is no denying the power of The Handmaid's Tale. It's a scary exaggeration of a world that many people claim they want to build. It should be required viewing for anyone who advocates a fundamentalist point of view of any kind. [09 Mar 1990]
Despite its shortcomings, however, the movie is often stimulating in a way that movies generally aren't. A dark, mirthless satire set in the near future, the film keeps your attention by holding a warped mirror up to our own time. [19 Mar 1990, p.C1]
Despite its familiarity, Tale is well-staged and well-acted. Richardson makes Kate a real person, and her tale is suspenseful to the end. [16 Mar 1990, p.R07]
The overall direction of the movie may be strongly polemical, but its real strength comes from the resonance of a hundred subtle moments. [04 May 1990, p.3F]
Harold Pinter's screenplay adds needless touches of melodrama to Margaret Atwood's original novel, but the performances have a lot of conviction, and the story deals with important issues. [16 Mar 1990, p.10]
The several ideas whizzing about in this story are frankly fascinating, and though there are times when the film seems sadly out of date, the film has a real pull to it. [16 Mar 1990, p.G5]
It's a beautifully austere piece of work -- it's rare to see a film these days that's as carefully designed as this one. But the design hasn't been given enough human contours. It's as if the film makers had forgotten the raging emotions that all that design and austerity were supposed to repress. [07 Mar 1990, p.F1]
Tampa Bay TimesClark Perry
Though the movie version of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale isn't as powerful as its source material, there are enough stark, unnerving images here to give the effort an Orwellian potency all its own. [17 Mar 1990, p.1D]
The heavy-handed direction by Volker Schlondorff doesn't help to make the movie convincing or dramatically effective. [16 Mar 1990, p.54]
The film is madly, compulsively overcontrolled, from its funereal pacing to its pristine red, white and blue color scheme; those moments when it loses its dignity are irresistibly comic, and in this grim context, infinitely precious.[16 Mar 1990, p.B]