Paulina Escobar (Weaver) is a housewife married to a prominent lawyer in an unnamed South American country. One day a storm forces her husband Gerardo (Wilson) to ride home with a kind stranger. That chance encounter brings up demons from her past, as she is convinced that the stranger, Dr. Miranda (Kingsley), was part of the old fascist regime and that he tortured and raped her while she was blindfolded. Paulina takes him captive to determine the truth. Despite attempts by both her husband and Miranda to convince her that he is innocent, Paulina is certain that he is the one, and forces her husband to be Miranda’s “attorney” in the “trial” she arranges for him.

Miranda conspires with Gerardo to agree to a false confession (as Paulina states that that is all she wants in exchange for his life), so they write one up and present it to Paulina. Enraged, Paulina deems Miranda as being unrepentant, and threatens to kill him. As Gerardo tries to stop her, Miranda succeeds in getting Paulina’s gun, and threatens to kill her if he is not freed. As he advances toward the door, Paulina hits him and after a struggle gets back in control. In a last-ditch effort to save his life, Miranda implores Gerardo to call the place where he claims to have been at the time of Paulina’s rape as she leads him blindfolded out the door to the edge of the cliff. Gerardo contacts the hospital, and the story is confirmed and he races to inform Paulina, at last convinced that Miranda is innocent. However, it is revealed that the doctors at that time created alibis in order to conceal their identities, and so Paulina rejects this as false. Accepting defeat, Miranda finally tells them that he really was the doctor, that he enjoyed brutalizing Paula, and that he was sorry that the old regime fell.

Enraged, Gerardo attempts to throw Miranda from the cliff only to realize he cannot bring himself to take a life. Paulina apparently accepts the confession, and they both leave Miranda on the cliff as he stares down at the water. In the final scene, Paulina and Gerardo are at the same concert where the film began with Miranda also present, looking down with his wife and sons. They cast uncomfortable glances at each other.

Death and the Maiden

Gerardo shows the mercy that Miranda never had. Miranda deserved to be executed but did not get what he deserved.



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