The Handmaid’s Tale

Year: 1990
Production Co: Cinetudes Films
Director: Volker Schlondorff
Writer: Margaret Atwood
Cast: Natasha Richardson, Robert Duvall, Faye Dunaway, Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth McGovern, Victoria Tennant
Margaret Atwood doesn't look like a sci-fi author, and The Handmaid's Tale doesn't look like a sci-fi movie, but it very much is.

The filmmakers have let the idea stand for itself, not cluttering it up with fancy window dressing like flying cars and teleporters, either because of a desire for realism or the lack of a budget for flying cars (probably a bit of both).

In the future, infertility is striking the female of the species at an alarming rate. The few fertile women, dubbed handmaids, are employed/enslaved as vessels for child rearing for couples in the elite class, among them a military commander (Duvall).

He's part of an extreme right tyrannical government fighting a now-familiar perpetual war for perpetual peace, but like Communist Russia, it's a cover for a brutally disparate world where the elite enjoy the fruits of their rule and leave the impoverished and hungry behind.

The plot is low-key and there are little to no action or sci-fi flourishes like there could have been. Instead it's a dark and gloomy document on reproductive rights in the era of hysterical religious extremism. So while it's a very strong idea, it's a less interesting movie.

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