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
In the ambitious follow-up to her celebrated debut feature 'Sweetie' Jane Campion presents yet another social misfit at odds with an unsympathetic world, drawing her inspiration this time from the autobiography of Janet Frame, a New Zealand writer who suffered eight years of electro-shock therapy after being misdiagnosed for schizophrenia. The film is structured in the form of a triptych, with the best moments (perhaps not surprisingly) all clustered in the first episode, showing the young Frame's childhood in a poor but literate household, always at the mercy of adult authority: teachers, doctors, and so forth. These early scenes aren't exactly meant to set a cheerful mood, but they look positively giddy compared to the rest of the film, the length of which eventually overwhelms its subject: watching the drab and lonely life of a painfully shy, pathetically insecure, repressed and introverted writer unfold over 158 minutes can be an oppressive experience. Campion's unique visual style is never less than interesting, but her technique of using sudden blackouts to separate short, seemingly unrelated fragments of narrative memory only underscores the difficulty of capturing on film the creative process of a writer.
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