The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle
Director: Curtis Hanson
Writer: Amanda Silver
Cast: Annabella Sciorra, Rebecca De Mornay, Matt McCoy, Ernie Hudson, Julianne Moore, Madeline Zima, John de Lancie
Seen on: 11.2.2018

Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra) is very happy with her husband Michael (Matt McCoy), and of course their 6-year-old daughter Emma (Madeline Zima). She’s also pregnant again. But when she goes to see her gynaecologist, Dr Mott (John De Lancie), he sexually assaults her. Claire calls in the authorities and Mott commits suicide to escape the scandal. Months later, Mott’s widow (Rebecca De Mornay) comes to the Bartels’ house to work as a nanny under a false name. Not knowing who she actually is, Claire hires her, giving her the perfect opportunity to get revenge for her ruined life.

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is simply awful. Misogynistic and stupid on some many levels, I could barely stand it. It’s a catastrophe.

There are exactly two things about the film that didn’t want to make me scream, two diamonds in the huge pile of shit: Julianne Moore and Madeline Zima. Their performances are strong and transcend the material the script offers. But that’s about it.

The rest of the film is, unfortunately, one catastrophe after the other. Starting with the mildly irritating thing that Claire’s asthma is triggered by stress in the most ridiculous way to the fact that the “nanny” (whose real name is never revealed, I think) ticks about every box in the misogynistic women-are-evil-schemers trope that you could possibly think of. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they wanted to show how threatening black men are perceived, especially when they’re disabled, but really the portrayal is just racist and ableist.

But even if the plot hadn’t relied on misogyny, it would still be incredibly stupid in the twists and turns it takes that are at the same time unlikely, clichéd and utterly predictable. There is really no redeeming feature here that is strong enough to make the film worth it.

Summarizing: I really didn’t expect much of the film, but it was worse than I thought.

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