In 1993, film audiences were given a truly moving gift. That gift was The Piano, a romantic drama about love, secrets, family and passion. The film starred Holly Hunter in an Academy Award-winning role, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill and True Blood’s Anna Paquin also in an Academy Award-winning role at the tender age of 11. The Piano is now out on Blu-ray and if you are in the mood for an erotic tale full of beauty and suspense, then I highly recommend checking out this unique film.
Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter) is a mute Scotswoman who has a strong passion for piano-playing. She also has a young daughter named Flora (Anna Paquin) who is outspoken and acts older than she really is. Ada has just been sold into marriage by her father to a rugged New Zealand man by the name of Alistair Steward (Sam Neill). Upon her arrival to Alistair’s home, Ada is cold and unaffectionate. She hates the fact that she has to live and love this man she barely knows. Flora shares this sentiment.
Eventually, Ada meets a local man and friend of Alistair’s named Baines (Harvey Keitel). Baines notices Ada’s passion for the piano and soon requests that she teach him how to play the instrument herself. Eventually, the two form a sensual affair and this scandalous relationship eventually causes a lot of trouble.
The Piano is not a feel-good movie by any means. It is a tale of lust, passion and deceit. The characters are richly drawn and full of deep complexity. Because Ada cannot speak, she expresses her pain and discomfort through her facial expressions, her sign language, a pad and pen and most importantly, her piano-playing. Holly Hunter’s (Raising Arizona) Oscar win in this role was very well-deserved. Her character seemed real, with every motion and every wordless moment.
Harvey Keitel (Taxi Driver) also shines in the film as Baines, the man who steals Ada’s heart. His character is so unique that he is almost impossible not to watch, except for his full-frontal moment. That was just a bit disturbing but nevertheless he turns in a fine performance. Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) is also rather good as Alistair, an uptight gentleman who doesn’t know how to get Ada to love him. Lastly, Oscar-winner Anna Paquin is pretty great as Flora adding much needed humor and spirited enthusiasm.
Period dramas usually tend to be boring and full of dull dialogue. The Piano is different. Some scenes that seem lame and uninteresting with suddenly switch gears and turn into exciting film moments full of genuine suspense. This movie will definitely keep you on your toes. Each character brings something valuable to the story and you will probably be glued to the screen as the plot progresses and thickens.
The Piano is not a film about a love triangle gone out of control. It is about communication, the lack there of and the ways in which people get the things they want. A film like The Piano rarely comes along but when it does, look out because it has a strong message it’s trying to convey. Audiences who are fortunate enough see this movie are in for a treat. This movie contains many powerful elements. Some of them include its exceptional cast, Jane Campion’s (Bright Star) exquisite direction and script, the locations where they shot the film and lastly, Michael Nyman’s (Gattaca) beautiful score.
Upon seeing The Piano, my attitude regarding arranged marriage became quite negative. More so than before. Ada certainly struggled in this movie but that’s okay. She is a tough character who is well aware of everything that’s going on around her, good and bad. Flora is right by her side and sometimes acts as the voice of reason but only when Ada seems to be making bad decisions. The Piano is one of the best human dramas I’ve ever seen so owning or renting the film is probably not a terrible idea.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The bonus features for The Piano are pretty unimpressive. They simply include some trailers and that’s it.