Director: Jane Campion Cast: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, Anna Paquin, Cliff Curtis, Kerry Walker, Geneviève Lemon, Tungia Baker, Ian Mune, Peter Dennett, Te Whatanui Skipwith, Bruce Allpress, Pete Smith, Carla Rupuha, Mahina Tunui
Academy Awards: Best Actress in a Leading Role (Holly Hunter); Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Anna Paquin); Best Original Screenplay (Jane Campion)
Also Nominated For: Best Picture; Best Director (Jane Campion); Best Cinematography; Best Costume Design; Best Film Editing
I First Saw In: 2015
Synopsis: A mute woman along with her young daughter, and her prized piano, are sent to 1850s New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, and she’s soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation.
Did You Know? Anna Paquin’s plays a girl named Flora, but her name is never mentioned throughout the entire film.
Quotables: FLORA: One day when my mother and father were singing together in the forest, a great storm blew up out of nowhere. But so passionate was their singing that they did not notice, nor did they stop as the rain began to fall, and when their voices rose for the final bars of the duet a great bolt of lighting came out of the sky and struck my father so that he lit up like a torch. And at the same moment my father was struck dead my mother was struck dumb! She never spoke another word.
And now a Word from the Guise:
IMDB calls this a romance, but I am loathe to call it such. It’s literally two men forcing themselves onto the same woman (Holly Hunter), who’s mute and can’t verbally tell them no. Not like that would have made any difference, since they deliberately ignored her physical rejections. When Ada’s affair becomes “too much” for him to handle, Alisdair (Sam Neill) attacks her and says, “Why do you make me hurt you?!” right before taking her outside and chopping off a finger right in front of her daughter (Anna Paquin). Then Alisdair gives the finger to Flora to take to George (Harvey Keitel) as a warning that if he ever sees Ada again, he’ll chop off another finger. When presented with the finger, George far more concerned about what Ada told Alisdair than he is that she just got a finger chopped off.
If it weren’t for the stellar performances by Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin, I would write this off as just another abhorrent film. I don’t typically like Paquin’s performances, but she is incredible in this film. I don’t often think much of child actors, because none of them really ever seem to have a clue what they’re doing. But Paquin, who was only 11 at the time, was quite convincing and went so far as to develop a Scottish dialect. That’s an impressive feat for an adult, let alone a child.
Oscar Madness Ranking – ??? out of 233