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A Dangerous Woman 1993 R CC

3.3 out of 5 stars (16) IMDb 5.9/10

Debra Winger gives a chilling, award-worthy performance in this haunting drama about an emotionally fragile woman who finds comfort with an alcoholic handyman working on her aunt's property.

Starring:
Laurie Metcalf, Debra Winger
Runtime:
1 hour, 43 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Romance
Director Stephen Gyllenhaal
Starring Laurie Metcalf, Debra Winger
Supporting actors John Terry, Barbara Hershey, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jake Gyllenhaal, Myles Sheridan, Chloe Webb, Richard Riehle, Viveka Davis, Gabriel Byrne, Paul Dooley, David Strathairn, Brad Blaisdell, Warren Munson, Rebeca Arthur, Jan Hooks, Philip McNiven, Breon Gorman, Anna Mathias
Studio Focus Features
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
This is more of a visual essay than a movie that one can sit back and enjoy. The question is: what happens to a young woman who always tells the truth? The answer: in an evil world, she is hurt, betrayed, kicked around, loses her friends, and winds up in prison. Debra Winger makes the role believable, and that's not easy to do. There are also things that happen "around" the Winger character that she doesn't quite see, and we the audience don't quite see either, so we're taken by surprise. The director almost pulled this one off. The two reviewers before me hated the movie, and I can see why. But maybe to a large extent they were thrown off by their expectations. The title, for instance, is ironic -- but who could have guessed that? (She's a dangerous woman in an evil world because she's a truth-teller.) The movie meanders; it's not the plot-rich kind of movie people want, nor is it a thriller, nor a suspenser; in short, it's a philosophical essay dressed up in movie clothes. And if that's all you expect, then it may be worth seeing. My two-star rating is pretty high for a cheapskate star-giver like me, and it's almost the kind of grade you give to a student who has written an essay that didn't come off but was the most ambitious essay in thc class: Two stars for a good try!
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Format: VHS Tape
Being a huge fan of the Gyllenhaal/Hershey collaboration "A Killing in a Small Town" (aka "Evidence of Love"), I had very high expectations for this, especially with Debra Winger in the cast. Alas, 'twas not to be. This is a meandering slog of a movie, with an ending that'll make you throw up your hands in exasperation for wasting two hours of your life. Winger's performance could not be bettered; curiously, Hershey (who deservedly won an Emmy for "Killing in a Small Town") has very little to do. Take a pass unless you're a huge fan of the stars.
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Format: VHS Tape
Although this movie is a little muddled, I still liked its tale of two--or really, three--lonely people.
This story raises the question: what happens when a mentally disabled woman (or man) has the same sexual desires as any other healthy adult? What happens when she desires a man who is "normal"? Martha's disability separates her from others in many ways, including the kind of romantic life that others take for granted. When Mac shows up on the doorstep, she discovers romantic and sexual feelings, and wants to express them as anyone else would. The others around her, especially her aunt, don't want this, perhaps even with good reason, but the movie sticks up poignantly for her right to blossom, including her right to be a sexual being.
However, there is a built in dilemma here. Martha can never be an appropriate partner for a "normal" man, so the relationship is doomed from the start. And Martha has no framework for understanding the impact of sexuality or rejection. Mac and Martha share a bond, but Frances, the aunt, is Mac's equal, and they too share the bond of being lonely people scarred by life. When they begin an affair, and Martha meets with the inevitable rejection, tragedy results.
The movie does wrap things up neatly--it's a movie, after all--and perhaps a little too patly, but on the whole I preferred the happier ending.
I was impressed with all performances here. Winger submerges herself completely in the character of Martha. Gabriel Byrne manages the tricky feat of making Mac sympathic, but repulsive at times, and keeping him sympathetic even when his carelessness has had such horrible results. I also thought he had good rapport with both actresses. His relationship with each was different, and both were watchable. Barbara Hershey has a smaller role than Winger, but I thought she did a good job, though I didn't know why her character had to be quite so insensitive to Martha.
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Except for a small, slight logical extension to the end, this adaptation is completely faithful to the book. To keep it to a reasonable length, chunks of plot and exposition in the original book have been left out - for example, the entire back story about Mackey being a published author is deleted, so when he goes back to his writing and Martha interrupts him at his typewriter, anyone not familiar with the original book may be lost as to why he's typing and why he reacts so strongly to being interrupted.

The cast assembled is a dream - Debra Winger, Barbara Hershey, Gabriel Byrne, Laurie Metcalf, David Straithairn, Paul Dooley. Because they've had a chance to read the original novel, they have complete backstories, and fully inhabit their characters.

When I first saw this movie, I was completely spooked by Debra Winger's portrayal of Martha Horgan. Watching it again on video, I think her portrayal sometimes veers a little too far towards "mentally ill," although the book takes great pains to portray Martha as a socially awkward woman who is situationally abused by everyone in her town. When she lashes out violently, which is true to the book, it can be shocking to watch. It's equally disturbing to observe the casual cruelty to which she is subjected, by children, adult friends, sales people. When Mackey, the stranger from out of town, treats her kindly, the contrast puts the injustice front and center.

So much of the book is missing, it almost makes the book seem overplotted. The ending has been cut back enormously; I suppose it would have played as melodrama. Still, the screen adaptation is completely true to these characters, the situation, and the actors embrace the roles with gusto.
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