Review: A Dangerous Woman

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A Dangerous Woman opened on this date in 1993. The drama starred Debra Winger, Barbara Hershey and Gabriel Byrne. The film was directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal.


Debra Winger stars as Martha Horgan, a mentally and socially challenged woman who lives with her aunt (Barbara Hershey) in a small town. Horgan is obsessed with always telling the truth and her social awkwardness attracts bullying from the other residents of her town. When a handyman (Gabriel Byrne) moves in with Martha and her aunt to help manage their large property, both of their lives are changed forever. 


  • Debra Winger, Barbara Hershey and Gabriel Byrne all give solid performances. They do a fine job with the material they have to work with.


  • The biggest problem with A Dangerous Woman is how unlikable all the characters are. You feel sympathy for Martha for most of the film, but then she commits such a violent act that you end up turning on her. Every character is so cruel and selfish that it’s hard to invest emotionally in any of them.
  • The film focuses a lot on how Martha is obsessively compelled to tell the truth, but then the script overlooks that fact when it is convenient. The script is inconsistent in regards to how it portrays Martha’s quirks.
  • The film looks flat and lacks cinematic scope. A Dangerous Woman could have easily been a made for TV movie based on its direction and cinematography.

In Closing:

A Dangerous Woman is packed with good actors, but they are wasted on a script that is aimless and often cruel. It’s hard to find any real message or theme in the film. The characters are so miserable and loathsome that they make it impossible to care about anything that takes place in the film. A Dangerous Woman is definitely one of Amblin’s weakest projects.

Rating: D-