An Angel At My Table (1990)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBBB

United Kingdom/Australia/New Zealand, 1990.  Hibiscus Films, New Zealand Film Commission, Television New Zealand, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel Four Films.  Screenplay by , based on the books To The Is-land, An Angel At My Table, and The Envoy From Mirror City by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Podcast: My Criterions.  

Jane Campion’s masterpiece. It tells the story of Janet Frame, a famous New Zealand author who was subjected to years of electroshock therapy in a mental institution when she was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. During a time when doctors everywhere were looking for new ways to break ground in the ever-widening field of psychoanalysis, Frame was singled out for her extreme shyness and instantly declared mentally unstable.

Based on Frame’s three autobiographies, the film tells a beautiful and complete tale of her life, starting from her childhood with her large family, through to her teen troubles and finally to the place of peace and eventual success that she finds as an adult and an artist. is mesmerizing in the lead, and Campion never lets the pace flag for a moment in the film’s epic running time.

The Criterion Collection:  #301

Venice Film Festival Award:  Grand Special Jury Prize


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