In 1920s and 1930s New Zealand, Janet Frame grows up in a poor family with lots of brothers and sisters. Already at an early age she is different from the other kids. She gets an education ... See full summary »
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James Cellan Jones
Philip Michael Thomas
When weary Old Dan collapses at Central Railway Station he entrusts his beloved dog Molly to young Maxie. Maxie takes up the challenge, developing a soft spot for her special new companion - a dog with the rare ability to sing in tune.
In 1920s and 1930s New Zealand, Janet Frame grows up in a poor family with lots of brothers and sisters. Already at an early age she is different from the other kids. She gets an education as a teacher but since she is considered abnormal she stays at a mental institution for eight years. Success comes when she starts to write novels. Written by
Superficially, this is a sort of "My Brilliant Career," meets "A Beautiful Mind."
It features one of the most extraordinary actresses, new to me. I saw her in "Intmacy" and had to find more. It is made by a talented and sometimes engaging filmmaker who explores how women are haunted. It is about a writer whose books don't grab me, but whose story does. She believed herself haunted.
The problem is that these three songs from different souls don't overlap that much.
Frame created written images that were teased out of a struggle with life, one that infused her. Her sanity came from the writing. She didn't write about insanity and marginalization, she wrote from them to counter and co-opt them somewhat. This engages the reader because most of us are afraid to go as deeply into the darkness as these visions indicate.
That's a different thing entirely than the story Campion has chosen to give us, which is about all the external agency that surrounded her. I cannot think of an instance where the literary kite and the cinematic string are in such different dimensions. Sure, its an interesting story that someone's light survived, I suppose. But we never see that light, or the ledges that were climbed, or the images that were carried out for us.
What's left for Fox to do is emote visually. She does an extraordinary job, quite apart from the fact that it is ineffective in this container. I really do think she's something another of those Australian/New Zealand crowd that just seem to have something that is rare elsewhere.
She and the girls who play her younger selves are redheads. That's not at all a cinematic device, though it is used cleverly to mend the three actresses. Frame actually had that Clarabelle hair.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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