Directed by Jane Campion
We finally get another female director, which in itself is cause for celebration. Luckily, the film also turned out to be magnificent.
Ada McGrath, a mute Scotswoman, is sold into marriage by her father. She is forced to move to New Zealand with her young daughter and to abandon her prized piano on the beach. Thankfully, her handsome neighbor Baines obtains the piano by trading her husband Alisdair some of his land. Baines then receives private piano lessons by Ada. Ada finds herself torn between Alisdair's jealousy and Baines' passion. Male egos, am I right?
It takes a really talented actress to give an Oscar worthy performance without the use of any dialogue. Matlin pulled it off in Children of a Lesser God and Hunter does it perfectly here, conveying emotions and thoughts in her expressions that are too deep to put into words anyway. I have always thought Sam Neill was rather blech but his blechness here worked for his character (speaking of complex thoughts...).
So a beautiful movie, but not one I can ever watch again. Given how heartbreaking the story is, I believe repeated viewings would send me off a ledge.
Jane Campion was the first woman to win a Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for this movie.
Holly Hunter performed most of her own piano playing.