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 »
It is the mid-nineteenth century. Ada cannot speak and she 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 neighbor, 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>
Film debut of Anna Paquin. At the age of nine, she beat out five thousand other girls who sent in audition videotapes for the role of Flora. (NOTE: Castle in the Sky (1986) is Anna Paquin's earliest listed role on IMDB. However, this was an English dub of a Japanese animation film by Hayao Miyazaki. Although the movie itself was first released in Japan in 1986, Paquin did not do the English voice-over for it until 1998. This movie was her first film role ever.) 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 is a director of quiet unease. I was not a big admirer of her "Angel At My Table", which had enormous possibilities but was suffocated under the filmmaker's penchant for what I refer to as 'ugly beauty'. Even the beautiful passages in this film are undermined by either something ghastly, something about to become ghastly, or something borne from ghastliness. A New Zealand woman in the 1800s becomes a mail-order bride for an uninterested working man; she's a self-elected mute and communicates through her wizened little daughter (Oscar-winner Anna Pacquin, a bit over-the-top) and through her passion for playing the piano, which becomes a point of contention in her marriage. Engrossing human drama with a torrid undercurrent of sexuality and violence. Many people I've talked to about this film could not get with it, but perhaps that's the fault of watching movies at home. In the theater, this was a slightly-dazed, rapturous and enveloping brew that held me spellbound until the lights went up. Movies like this don't hold the same spell when butchered up by ads for the CBS comedies. Holly Hunter, Sam Neill and, most especially, Harvey Keitel all do terrific work. Hunter deservedly won a Best Actress Oscar. ***1/2 from ****
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