Projections - Movie Reviews

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

Pregnant with her second child, Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra - Jungle Fever), goes to a new gynecologist when her family doctor retires.  Her exam becomes a physical violation and Claire files a complaint against him.  The publicity causes the ruination of the doctor and his young wife to miscarry.

After Clair gives birth, her husband (Matt McCoy) talks her into getting a nanny to help out with their baby son and young daughter (Madeline Zima).  Any woman who hires a beautiful, soft spoken woman to be a live in nanny is asking for trouble and Clair gets just that when she hires Payton (Rebecca DeMornay).

Even after Clair's friend warns her about Payton by telling her that "the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world," she fails to suspect that anything is amiss.  Entirely too trusting, Clair doesn't see Payton's desperate need to take over the mothering of her two children.

Payton hovers between sweet and demure and wall smashing crazy.  She roughs up a young playground bully and threatens a retarded handyman (Ernie Hudson) when he sees more than he should.  DeMornay's clear blue eyes and straight on stare make her look like a dangerous menace.

The film never stoops to using blood and gore to frighten.  Instead, writer Amanda Silver uses the feelings of the two women to build suspense; Payton's increasing importance in the Bartel home and the breakdown of Clair's trust, slowly build into confrontation.

Good acting and heightening emotions make The Hand That Rocks the Cradle a very effective thriller.

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

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