The Piano is a desperate call into the ether, screaming but nobody can hear you. Jane Campion’s ballet of passion and loss is a beautifully sincere experience. Capturing a past life through the musical compositions and her trauma, showing a woman unable to speak her mind to men, while being with them out of a fear of loneliness and the obligation of marriage.
Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter) has a ferocity in her presence and a comendeering attitude towards men. She feels disconnected to the contemporary world of men, and completely embroiled in her past life and the expressive nature of music. However, she’s trapped. Trapped through the possessive nature of men and using her as property. It speaks to an atmosphere where women have little to say, and in the case of Ada, she’s restricted from any sort of meaningful discussion due to her deafness. Regardless, she speaks volumes in the subtle and underplayed, making people subconsciously pay attention to her even if the means to do so are destructive. She’s a bit of an antagonizer and the way she drives men insecurity is so purely genius.
Jane Campion’s writing is subdued, but brimming with passionate beauty in the unspoken. It’s one of those brilliant scripts that speaks louder between the dialogue. The overpowering nature of Ada’s action and inaction, the sincerity of her connection to nature, and how the plot slowly unravels to something truly appalling. The themes of repression and loneliness painted on every piece of the script and film making.
Undoubtedly, the elements of the film that work are wonderfully constructed works of art. The gothic aesthetic and the casting were pitch perfect. It’s not a flawless film with pieces of the editing losing sight of the passion and lingering on story beats, but there are few dramas as sincere as The Piano. Holly Hunter is a powerhouse able to undersell her impact of her presence, feigning a blindness to it, but truly understands her place and shows deep complex layers of emotion. A great performance in an excellent film.
★★★★/ Out of 5★s (88)