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.