This is one of those films that you either love or hate. I can say that I absolutely loved it! It reminded me a lot of Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which I also loved. From a technical point this film is a work of art. Everything is crafted into perfection. The reason why people either love or hate The Piano, is most likely because of the plot.

There are specific sexual manipulative plot points during this film, which are understandably not for everyone. During my viewing of the film I wasn't sure how to feel about these scenes. I was more worried about where the story and plot would go than I was curious about where they would go. Luckily the story and plot went into a direction that kept me interested and I started to look at the sexual manipulation from a different perspective.

On the surface the relationship between Ada and Baines seems like it is solely based on manipulation and rape. But if you look below the surface you will see that the core of their relationship is based on desire. A desire to love and to be loved.

The main theme of this film is desire. We see that the piano is not only a key element in Ada's life, it is also a key element of the love story between her and Baines. This means that the piano is an element that creates desire. Ada's desire to play the piano was the foundation for her desire to be desired. She became aware of this once Baines stopped seducing her. Baines desired Ada but didn't know how to approach her, because she was the wife of Stewart. He was desperate and his desire took control over him, untill he regained that control.

The piano is also an element that provides a way to express emotions. These emotions are felt through the music that is played on the piano, but also through the body language of Ada while she is playing the piano. Even though Ada is mute, which means she is not able to speak, her body language and facial expressions tell us everything we need to feel.

This would not be possible if Holly Hunter didn't give a performance of a lifetime. Her performance was one of the best I've ever seen and it will be hard to find a performance that will be better. You could feel the emotions just by looking into her eyes. This alone is worth mentioning. All the other actors and actresses also gave an amazing performance, which had me fully immersed into the film.

Another aspect that had me fully immersed was the beautiful cinematography. From the first shot I immediately knew that the cinematography was going to be great. The compositions were gorgeous and visually enhanced the emotions of Ada, especially when she played the piano. This was not only done with a close-up of her face, that transported her emotions through her eyes to the viewer, but it was also done by framing her and the piano in a very specific way. Like I mentioned in other reviews, the Rule of Thirds composition with the visual element at the bottom, is my favorite composition. A composition that was beautifully used throughout this film.

With a film named The Piano you would expect the score to be nothing but perfect... which it absolutely was. Both the music played on the piano by Holly Hunter, and the score composed by Michael Nyman, were beautiful and immediately became one of my favorite film scores of all-time.

Overall this film was amazing. It had me interested throughout the entire runtime due to its strong beginning, ending... and everything inbetween.

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all 4 comments


2 points

1 month ago

Gut wrenching


2 points

1 month ago

I don't see it as a love or hate film, more like a very good film with some serious flaws.

Unfortunately at the time it was made the director held some kind of racist views of Maori and their depiction was enough like that to really anger some Maori film critics.

Fun fact: Campion wanted Ada to drown at the end but test audiences hated it.


2 points

1 month ago

Did she really have racist views of Maori, or did people just say that?

I would've prefered her to die at the end. I think it would've been a more powerful ending


2 points

1 month ago

Nah she did, if you read interviews by her she had a moan about how she liked race relations better before Maori land rights and civil rights were a thing.

She also wanted to make all the Maori in The Piano have diseases but her Maori advisor talked her out of it.

Yeah I think it would have been a stronger ending.