The Crucible (1996)
This adaptation of Arthur Miller's allegorical play is potentially powerful, but somewhat disappointing. A literal witch hunt in the Massachusetts Bay Colony towards the end of the 17th century plays as a parable for 1950s McCarthyism. In the role as senator McCarthy's proxy, Abigail Williams, an energetic Winona Ryder with wild eyes tries to expand her horizons as an actress. She demonstrates her talent, but the character is also lacking in depth. It's so stereotypical and unprogressive that it borders on counterproductive. Her motive for instigating the witch hunt is her passionate affair with John Proctor, a married man, played with vigour by Daniel Day-Lewis. He is also the voice of reason in a society that goes completely off the hinges, and his character is crucial for making both the explicit and implicit story here resonant. Day-Lewis manages to keep the film interesting when director Nicholas Hytner at times seems to forget that he's directing for the big screen and not the theatre.