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It is the mid-nineteenth century. Ada is a mute who has a young daughter, Flora. In an arranged marriage she leaves her native Scotland accompanied by her daughter and her beloved piano. Life in the rugged forests of New Zealand's North Island is not all she may have imagined and nor is her relationship with her new husband Stewart. She suffers torment and loss when Stewart sells her piano to a neighbour, George. Ada learns from George that she may earn back her piano by giving him piano lessons, but only with certain other conditions attached. At first Ada despises George but slowly their relationship is transformed and this propels them into a dire situation. Written by
Patrick Dominick <email@example.com>
Picked by Entertainment Weekly magazine as one of the "50 Greatest Independent Films" in a special supplement devoted to independent films that was only distributed to subscribers in November 1997. See more »
When the boat leaves the island, Ada trails her hand in the water, which is still and calm. On long shots, it is foaming from the action of the oars, and the boat on the water. See more »
The voice you hear is not my speaking voice - -but my mind's voice. I have not spoken since I was six years old. No one knows why - -not even me. My father says it is a dark talent, and the day I take it into my head to stop breathing will be my last. Today he married me to a man I have not yet met. Soon my daughter and I shall join him in his own country. My husband writes that my muteness does not bother him - and hark this! He says, "God loves dumb creatures, so why not I?" '...
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Jane Campion's Oscar-winning movie follows Ada (played by Holly Hunter), an immigrant to the New Zealand outback and an arranged marriage, who has not spoken for years and lives her life through the sound of her piano. Her husband (played by Sam Neill) is a man without much understanding, who tries to break the connection between his new wife and her piano; in contrast to him is the wild illiterate Baines (played by Harvey Keitel), a tattooed loner, who reaches into Ada's soul and helps her to regain contact with her emotions and ultimately, her voice too.
The film is visually compelling, with its muted colours and wide open spaces, and uses the soundtrack by Michael Nyman in such a way so all the elements fit together. Keitel and Hunter give excellent performances within a sensitive and sensual screenplay, while Anna Paquin is impressive as Ada's wise daughter, always watching and always aware. Campion managed to make the story touching, involving, and sexy, and it well deserved the plaudits heaped on it.
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