Year of Release: 1993
Director: Jane Campion
Stars: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, Anna Paquin, Kerry Walker, Genevieve Lemon, Tungia Baker, Ian Mune, Cliff Curtis
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 9
"The Piano" came on the heels of Jane Campion's previously fantastically accomplished films "Sweetie" and "An Angel at My Table". The film follows the story of Ada, a mute woman who alongside her daughter, gets sent to New Zealand to marry a man whom she's never met (in the 1850s). Ada uses her piano as a way to express herself, and she's forced to teach lessons to a local landowner, since her piano is used as a negotiating tool by her new husband. The proximity between these disparate souls creates a connection that has dramatic consequences.
Jane Campion has managed to create a career that is punctuated by films with central heroines that are strong and resourceful, though they are met with adversity in the shape of men who are insecure and frightened of female resourcefulness and sexuality. "The Piano" places the central character in an environment that is harsh and primal, one that contrasts with her poetic way of expressing herself through her music and piano. In this environment the blossoming of an erotic and passionate love story emerges, one that is all consuming. The core performances are fantastic, from Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel and Anna Paquin. Also worthy of plenty of praise are the beautiful cinematography from Stuart Dryburgh and the score from Michael Nyman. A classic always worth revisiting from a truly unique voice in modern cinema.