Review of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)

Moving picture, 110 minutes

Seen in 2016.

Unimaginative and predicated upon the backlash against feminism, with an extremely improbable and morally supercharged form of madness in its premise. As craft rather than art, it’s a clever combination of sexual jealousy with deeper fears of intimate subversion. There are just a few points of bathos: The terror of a black guy appearing in your garden, the response of that black guy when threatened (openly stating an improbable resolve and really sticking with it), the Rube Goldberg assassination plot in the greenhouse (miraculously taking out a career woman, of course), and the last battle, resembling a slasher: the shovel is an extremely effective weapon (Claire drops unconscious from a single hit to her back, with her adrenaline up), Michael breaks his legs falling off half a flight of stairs to land almost on all fours, for some reason there’s a fire poker in the room with the cradle, and instead of winning, Claire gloats, stating almost explicitly the message to stay at home and take care of your own children, woman, or this could happen to you! The only hint of sympathy for Claire is thematically related: She had no mother herself, but she has to be impaled for her evil ways all the same. Even knowing the premise has no credibility, these moments are comically out of place because the rest of the execution is so careful.

fiction moving picture