Happy Wednesday, everyone. I'm back from yet another trip away, this time to the beach with Jude and another friend from our uni days, Sophia. Sophia is from China, though she has been living in Australia for 4 years now, and had never swum in the ocean before.
I decided it was time to change that. She was pretty nervous about getting into the water, so I grabbed her hand, told her to trust me, and ran with her into the ocean.
Fifteen minutes later I was teaching her to bodysurf and we were catching waves together. It was a lot of fun. The three of us had a great time catching up and laughed a lot. Laughter really is the best...you know where I'm going with this. Anyway, I'm home now and after three trips away in 10 days (and to very varied locations...mountain, city, island and beach), and though I've had a lot of fun, I'm glad to have some time to relax at home before the holidays end.
Onwards and upwards with my Wednesday movie review...
It is the mid-nineteenth century. Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter in an Oscar-winning role) is mute, and she tells us in her narration that she has not spoken since she was six years old. She has a young, illegitimate daughter, Flora (Anna Paquin, who at 11 won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this role) and has been married off by her father to a man she has never met. With Flora, she is sent from her native Scotland to New Zealand to live with her settler husband Stuart (Sam Neill). Accompanying them is Ada's beloved piano. Life in the rugged forests of New Zealand's South Island is not all she may have imagined and nor is her relationship with her new husband. She suffers torment and loss when Stewart sells her piano to a neighbour, George (Harvey Keitel). 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.
'The Piano' has been, and remains, one of my all time favourite movies. The acting performances are astonishingly good, particularly from Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin. Holly Hunter does not speak for the entire movie but still won the Best Actress Oscar and it is easy to see why- her performance is shaded with nuance and every flicker and play of expression and emotion on her face is carried out with consumate skill. Anna Paquin is incredible as her daughter, Flora, a fey and creative child who communicates with her mother using sign language and often speaks for her. Anna Paquin was only nine when she made this film and displays a talent beyond her years in a completely believable and heartfelt role. I am currently watching the TV series 'True Blood' and it is a novelty to see her all grown up! Sam Neill and Harvey Keitel also give great performances as the troubled men in Ada's life.
The direction, by Jane Campion (who also wrote the script) is also very strong, and earnt Jane an Oscar nomination for direction and an Oscar win for the script. The scenery is amazing, the depictions are very historically accurate and it is easy to feel transported to New Zealand in 1950. The soundtrack, comprised solely of piano music, much of it played by Holly Hunter herself, is at turns haunting, poignant and unforgettable.
This movie has some scenes that are quite confronting, and even more so because we come to care so much for the characters. However, there is not one thing I would change about it as it a truly amazing film. See it if you appreciate incredible acting or a character-driven drama.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Haunting, beautiful, ultimately unforgettable.