Starring: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, Anna Paquin (in her first acting role)
Director: Jane Campion
Summary: A mute woman and her daughter are sent to 1850s New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, but is soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation
Other Nominations: Director, Actress (Hunter)*, Supporting Actress (Paquin)*, Original Screenplay*, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing
This is the very rare film where I really don’t know how to feel about it after watching it except that there’s a sort of strange magic to it. What the film gives you is an offbeat tale of lust and self-repression with great exterior trappings (like its cinematography, costumes and exotic scenery) and an excellent lead performance from Holly Hunter, the third woman to win an Oscar playing someone who’s deaf, a mute or a deaf-mute (after Jane Wyman who was amazing in Johnny Belinda and Marlee Matlin in Children of a Lesser God). All the major performances are really good, although I am somewhat surprised that Paquin won; she’s very good for child actress standards, but I would imagine there was someone better in the nominee pool.
Overall, I…liked it? I mean, it’s well made and very well acted, and the story was unusual and unexpected, but it failed to fully connect with me. I will concede its merits and say that it probably wasn’t for me.