An amazing movie. Stars Holly Hunter as a mute, Sam Neill as the man who mail-orders her as a bride, Harvey Keitel as the man who becomes her lover, and Anna Paquin as her daughter (from an affair before the movie begins). It has amazing cinematography (I believe it takes place in Australia), a great plot, and astounding music.

Unfortunately, this movie was nearly ruined for me by the stupid final scene that Jane Campion, the director, had to put in to soothe the stupid American public. I think it's really lame that the American public can't handle an ending where either the good guy doesn't win or there is no happy ending.

The Piano is a tale of a woman's will...

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?" 'Twere good he had God's patience, for silence affects us all in the end. The strange thing is, I don't think myself silent. That is because of my piano. I shall miss it on the journey.


Holly Hunter, who plays Ada, is actually an accomplished pianist and does more than justice to the strains which form the foundation of the score by Michael Nyman. Just the way Holly approaches the piano speaks of her familiarity as a musician... She is sometimes shy, sometimes attacking, sometimes languorous, approaching it like she would a lover... when she plays she is insistent, voracious and consumed with it. Nyman wished to create a repertoire for Ada 'that I imagined she had in her head, that her fingers carried around with her.' Ada was from Scotland, and Nyman looked to folk and popular songs of the time for inspiration. He built the rest of the score around those central airs written for her piano....

The reoccurring melody from the score that is painfully gorgeous is found on the soundtrack as 'The Promise.'

This is what longing sounds like, I think.

As a thinking woman, and especially as a resident of New Zealand, everyone expects me to love this movie.

But, despite the beautiful, atmospheric photography, despite the undoubtedly interesting plot, Jane Campion's superb direction, and the undeniably excellent performances ... it still bored me to tears.

Holly Hunter's character, as far as I was concerned, was spoiled, willful, and selfish, and I could actually see an argument for wife-beating if any man was unlucky enough to be married to her. Most people get beyond the foot-stamping stage by the time they reach their teens -- but not Ada. Refusing, for mysterious reasons of her own, to speak, she instead behaved like a sulky child to communicate. Anna Paquin's oscar-winning role was that of a treacherous, smug little madam, set fair to grow into a similar monster to her mother. The wonderful Sam Neill managed to combine despotism with being ineffectual and was stilted and repressed in his portrayal of the cuckolded husband, and Harvey Keitel's uncultured, rough but still sensitive lover was ... strangely unattractive to me.

The players all did a marvellous job in creating their characters, and should be congratulated; unfortunately I could feel no empathy whatsoever for the characters they created.

I know the film has artistic merit. I realise that it is a work of great depth. But I wonder if I was alone in wanting to cheer when it looked like both Ada and her damned piano were going to disappear forever into the murky waters, where I felt she belonged.

I bet I wasn't.

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