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4.1 out of 5 stars106
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on May 3, 2004
What went wrong with this film? Everyone involved has done brilliant work before and after this production, yet when they combined all their talent together they ended up with a movie that steamrolled the creator's statement over the characters and their actions.
None of the characters act in any sense other than to be moved as pieces on the gameboard for the writer in an attempt to say "something." What that something is is obviously supposed to make us sympathize with Hunter's character, but she is drawn as such a cartoon (a boorish, manipulative cartoon at that), one can never feel anything for her other than wonder why she is ruining everyone else's life around her? Perhaps for the kicks? It would certainly seen so, as she has no reason to even be in the film except as to create unhappiness for all the other characters.
If one wants a film dealing with the ability for the human spirit to rise upon inprisonment, there are many, many, MANY better films than this one. One can only leave this movie feeling cold and depressed because it never is more than cardboardish, hateful characters doing terrible things to each other (including a clumsy attempted-rape sequence) until the out of the blue "happy" ending that seemed tacked on to help the bitter pill be easily to swallow by American audiences.
Shallow and desperate.
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on September 2, 2000
This is one of the worst films I have ever seen, female director or not. It features a mute who cannot figure out how to deal with an arranged marriage mate who is insensitive to her needs and another tattooed man who lusts for her, though quietly. She chooses the latter after the former does violence upon her hand -- with which she played the piano.
This film shows what humanity is capable of sinking to, and then perhaps rising from slightly. But who cares!
Some reviews say it is beautiful. It is not! People in period dress slipping around in the mud of some jungle. Inconsistant jungle cum hilltop jumps make the whole muddy thing seem low budget, and low concept. Try another film by a different director.
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on February 24, 2001
I guess I'll have to join the ranks of the "great unwashed" who just don't appreciate films like this. I read where Ada was suppose to be so complex-not speaking and playing the piano well makes a person complex? I didn't think she even gave her new husband a chance (plus, what husband (even nowadays) is going to haul a piano up a jungle mountainside...they're a pain to move from one room to another!). All in all, I found this movie to be annoying. I liked Anna Paquin-she was very good, but one little girl doesn't a great movie make!
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on September 15, 2002
Harvey Keitel has a habit of always playing a perverse and unlikeable character, and he scores again. Holly Hunter is a sympathetic character, here, and her performance is a powerful one in the face of Keitel, who emits darkness and foreboding. A truly disturbing movie.
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on October 27, 1999
Could easily be the most overrated video of all time. A hateful, cynical mess. The only redeeming quality was the outstanding cinematography.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2003
Jane Campion's "The Piano" comes across as nothing more than a pretentious and dull piece of melo-dramatic cinema. Its only saving grace is the beutiful cinematography of New Zealand's untamed wilderness and a strong performance by Harvey Keitel.
One finds it hard to associate with either Ada (Holly Hunter) or her pretentious daughter Flora (Anna Paquin.) Their prudish and overly self-righteous personalities simply evoke no sympathy. Throughout the movie I was hoping either Sam or Harvey would take Anna Paquin's character and either drown her or throw her off the cliff to make her shut up. One comes out feeling that if Ada's beloved piano and previous cozy life were so important to her she should have stayed home in Scotland instead of coming to the jungles of New Zealand.
Harvey Keitel's performance as a Maori or half-Maori was the definitely best in the movie. Overall, a very forgettable melo-drama about a prudish woman with a pretentious and insolent daughter who both feel that life in the colonies should revolve only around their needs. A real yawner where the only things that keep you awake are the overly irritating temper tantrums of Anna Paquin's character.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2000
Not likely. This movie is a really good example of a movie that was raved by reviewers while putting the rest of moviegoers to sleep. The story unfolds slowly and remains largely uneventful. And worst of all, Holly Hunter and Harvery Keitel get naked - ugh! I'm sorry but this nudity is probably more offensive than whatever couple of minutes got cut out of the U.S. release of Basic Instinct. Don't see this movie...unless you like this sort of sap.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2003
The heroine of this film has to be high on the list of most irritating characters I have ever encountered. She doesn't speak, though it is never explained why, my own guess is that she just likes driving everyone crazy. She allows herself to be married off to a man in New Zealand who she evidnetly doesn't like, again we are never told why. Her husband won't let her take her beloved piano into their home, why on earth not? Playing the piano was an essential female accomplishment in those days, every middle-class household had a piano. What kind of a woman uses her own daughter as a go-between between herself and her lover? Apart from being a thoroughly immoral thing to do, it is also extremely stupid. Everyone knows no child can keep a secret. I think her husband shows reamrkable forebearance in only cutting her finger off, personally I think he'd have done better to cut her head off.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2002
A deaf woman falls in love with a piano tuner who lives in the jungle. He teaches her to play piano by making love to her on the piano. Why does she live in the jungle, and how on earth do you contact a piano tuner who also happens to live in the jungle?!? I can see how it's an empowering film because she overcomes her hearing challenges much like Beethoven had to, but there are just way too many unrealistic plot elements in this movie to make it at all enjoyable.
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
If there was an 11th Commandment, it would read, "Thou Shall Not Watch The Piano". I don't think I've spent a more horrifying two hours in my entire life. "The Piano" is officialy crowned Queen of Detestable Movies, leaving former heiresses to the throne such as "Chocolat" and "The Banger Sisters" comfortably in her distant wake.
I see where this film was trying to go; how it was trying to be "artsy". If the director wanted to par alongside with what passes for art nowadays (i.e. paintings made with human excrement), then she hit the nail squarely on the head with such acuteness not witnessed since the opening scenes of "Karate Kid 2".
Holly Hunter's character is not mute, but she chooses not to speak. We've never really told exactly why, but I guess it was intended to add to her pathetic "mystique". All it added to was my growing nausea. Hunter "spoke" through her piano, playing ragtime tunes when she was happy (even though ragtime hadn't been discovered yet), and playing eerie Baroque whenever she was depressed (which was about 99.99% of the movie). Not to say she trod through her depression alone....I was with her the entire time, her despair mirroring to perfect symmetry my own feelings at having to sit through the shallow symbolism of it all.
Set in colonial New Zealand, Hunter shows up on a beach to marry farmer Sam Neill. Their union is pre-arranged by her father, which predictably leads to Hunter's resistance of and rebellion from the sham marriage. Hunter's character and behavior are supposed to represent a sense of ahead-of-her-time feminism. This feminism is conveniently overlooked by the director when Hunter prostitutes herself out to neighbor Harvey Keitel as payment for her piano. One key at a time...plunk, plunk, plunk...and so the movie drudges on.
Nothing makes much sense. The symbolism, such as it is, is dry and ineffective. The characters are shallow with no believable relationship forged between any of them. Oh yes, then there's the scene that earned this movie five stars from the Hollywood crowd...Harvey Keitel walking around naked, blackmailing a married mother into sex while her daughter waits outside, and showing the remaining conscious audience that he's not the tanned, bulking hunk of independent farmer the director casted him as.
Pianists everywhere should feel insulted that their instrument of choice has been chosen to represent this avant garde slaughterhouse drainage clog. "Deliverance" not only had a more interesting plot (and that's not saying much), but the musician of the movie, the banjo player, was a more entertaining character than Hunter. Lack of dialogue is no excuse, because the banjo player didn't talk either.
If you don't find my review credible, find me one post-"Piano" movie starring Holly Nunter, Sam Neill, or Harvey Keitel that is.
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