The Piano (1993) (R)
"The Piano" is a remarkably well-made piece of cinema that ends up feeling hollow. Its characters are flat, the romance is unbelievable, and the movie drags on for too long. I heard an interview with Mark Kermode where he referenced "The Piano"...he claims that it's one of the most boring movies ever made. On this, I do not agree..because I've seen "Old Dogs", "The Astronaut Farmer", and "Man of Steel".
What "The Piano" lacks is a little maturity. It introduces characters too quickly and expects that we care about them.
The movie begins with a voice over narration of Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter). Ada is a mute, Scottish woman with a child. She tells us that no one has ever heard her voice. They how, as they viewer, are we hearing her voice? This is bad decision #1 and it's the first thing we see/hear.
Poor Ada, she's been married to a man that she's never met. So she being packed up and shipped away to this new lover...it's not a great first impression when you're treating like a load of luggage.
The necessary companion of Ada is Flora (Anna Paquin), her daughter. Flora can translate Ada's sign language for the men and women in the hire of the new man, Alisdair Stewart (Sam Neil). Alisdair's home is a little community of tribal people, maids, and the occasional male. Seriously, there are two male characters and the others just fade into the background. Apparently director Jane Campion didn't think that her audience was equipped enough to handle more than two white men...it's racist and insulting.
Ada is a terrific piano player, it's an outlet for her. She plays the piano and doesn't feel mute anymore...it gives her a voice—like "The King's Speech"....well, maybe that's a bad example.
Ada tells us that she'll miss her piano when she moves to meet her new man; but in the next scene we see her on a boat with her freakin' piano. So not only is a mute woman talking to us because Campion—also at fault for the script—thinks that we need a voice for a voiceless character, but she is lying to us. The men bring Ada and Flora and the piano to shore, dump them there, and set off for another city.
Mother and daughter are left on the beach for a night as they wait for prince charming and his slew of tribal people to rescue them.
Alisdair shows up the next day and they bring the two back through the jungle-ish terrain to his house in the middle of the woods. But he doesn't have enough men to bring the piano too, so it gets left on the beach for seagulls to poop on.
Alisdair is really tallying up the wrong kind of points—treat a woman like luggage and then poop on her piano. Of course, it's not Alisdair that's pooping on the piano it's.....you know what? I'm going to leave the scatological comments behind (oops, there I go again).
Ada is really miffed, not only because her piano is getting...um...rained on; but also because Alisdair is a shut-off man who thinks he can sweep her off her feet. She becomes purposely grouchy and it isn't helping married life.
She meets hunky....wait, what does he do? I don't know how to describe this guy, so from now on, I'll refer to him as El Fortissimo. El Fortissimo (Harvey Keitel) is kind of a perv; but don't worry because he has a heart of gold.
El Fortissimo decides to let Ada play his piano...and I mean that in more than one way.
Anyways the whole affair (see what I did there?) is so convoluted and dry that I really didn't care.
Campion's style is undeniable and "The Piano" looks and sounds fantastic. It has great performances, but it was just missing a huge chunk of plausibility.
As much as I wanted to like "The Piano", I didn't.
It played out adagio and I wanted it to be prestissimo.
Score: 2 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones