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The Piano

The Piano (1993)



Average Rating: 9.2/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 47,329

My Rating

Movie Info

Writer/director Jane Campion's third feature unearthed emotional undercurrents and churning intensity in the story of a mute woman's rebellion in the recently colonized New Zealand wilderness of Victorian times. Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter), a mute who has willed herself not to speak, and her strong-willed young daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) find themselves in the New Zealand wilderness, with Ada the imported bride of dullard land-grabber Stewart (Sam Neill). Ada immediately takes a dislike to


Drama, Romance, Art House & International

Jan 13, 1998

Miramax Films

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All Critics (52) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (44) | Rotten (5) | DVD (7)

Sweetie and An Angel at My Table have taught us to expect startling as well as beautiful things from Jane Campion, and this assured and provocative third feature (1993) offers yet another lush parable.

May 10, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Campion never underestimates the power physical obsession exerts over human souls, and, for once, a modern film treats erotic passion honestly.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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Ms. Campion somehow suggests states of mind you've never before recognized on the screen.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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[An] evocative, powerful, extraordinarily beautiful film from the Australian director Jane Campion.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post | Comment (1)
Washington Post
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The Piano is as peculiar and haunting as any film I've seen.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
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The Piano plays itself with such contrapuntal richness, it resonates in you forever.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[VIDEO] "The Piano" is a powerful film for its slow, inevitable inertia of drama.

August 26, 2011 Full Review Source:

A melancholy film exploring the despair and passion that arises from difficult situations.

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

Charged tale of a woman's awakening for older teens and up.

January 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A stunning mood piece and a haunting adult fairy tale.

August 18, 2009 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

It's often incorrectly reduced to a feminist fable, but the scope of Jane Campion's achievement is broader. If anything The Piano is a masterwork of humanism.

May 15, 2008 Full Review Source: Film Experience | Comments (2)
Film Experience

Sublime - Holly Hunter's best work.

July 14, 2007

The fable's surreal imagery and attention to detail, capturing a place and time--New Zealand outpost in 19th century--in which one mute person (the brilliant Holly Hunter) finds the true meaning of womanhood against all odds, linger in memory.

June 10, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

The Piano deserves its place as a classic.

November 3, 2005 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Intriguing and thoughtful - a beautiful tone

October 11, 2004

Campion's pet themes and ideas never came together with more physical clarity and emotional resonance than they did with her 1993 masterpiece.

June 14, 2004 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Amazing, fantastical and incredibly odd. You either love it or you loathe it.

August 18, 2003

A compelling examination of the wondrously strange ways in which people treat one another, the poetically eccentric accommodations they make to life's incomprehensible cruelty and flashes of brilliant wonder.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

The Piano is the most sense-luscious film to reach the screen in years. It shows how soul is realized through a fusion of body, desire and passion.

July 12, 2003 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Brilliant. Campion's use of interior and exterior space is amazing.

January 17, 2003
San Francisco Examiner

Very, very good, but never quite great.

December 1, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

nice but a little overrated; it's all holly

October 11, 2002

Despite elements that I found invigorating, most of the film left me cold.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Audience Reviews for The Piano

Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin shine in terrific performances in this beautiful, haunting story that Campion carries off with sheer sensitivity and in a slow-burning fashion that helps to explore the complexity of its characters and themes like restraint, passion and loneliness.
July 23, 2014

Super Reviewer

An intense and emotional film. The performances are excellent.
July 16, 2014

Super Reviewer

Astounding drama, The Piano is a near perfect picture that boasts an incredible cast of talented actors and has a terrific, well executed storyline. This film is famous for the fact that Anna Paquin who was eleven years old at the time of the film's release won an Oscar for her performance, thus becoming the second younger Oscar winner in film history. The film is a beautiful piece of cinema, in the way that it's been film, acted, directed and told. This is sublime storytelling and if you're looking for a solid piece of drama, then The Piano is worth seeing. Anna Paquin and Holly Hunter have terrific chemistry on-screen, and they are tremendous leads that really add so much to the film's powerful storytelling. Director Jane Campion crafts a brilliant picture, one that is rare in the way it tells a truly engrossing story that is elevated by the strong performances from its cast. Everything about the film is truly hypnotic, the score composed by Michael Nyman adds so much emotion to the story that you are overwhelmed by how grand the film is. This is a masterpiece in terms of pure craftsmanship and the cast just add so much to the enjoyment of the film. The Piano is a richly detailed drama is haunting, thrilling, and it keeps you invested from the first frame right to the final shot. I recommend this film to anyone that enjoys a richly told drama with a great story and top notch cast. The Piano is one the finest films in the genre, and it's a memorable picture that you won't soon forget because it's a chilling, beautiful film that is one of the finest films of 90's. To me, it's always great to see a director that is able to craft something truly grand with a few simple ideas, and that is the case with this film. Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin definitely deserved their Oscars for their roles as this is a near perfect film that has a very good story and magnetic performances that is sure to delight diehard film fans.
April 15, 2014
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

This beautiful period piece tells an erotic and yet subdued story, set in the vivid backdrop of New Zealand, and featuring a thoughtfully picked cast of characters. The story centers on eternally mute Ada McGrath (Hunter), an Irish emigrant to New Zealand, with her daughter Flora (Paquin) in tow, to marry a complete stranger (Neill). The landscape is uncontrollably muddy, fraught with rain and fog, and is hard to traverse in petticoats and dress, which Ada obviously dislikes. Being mute Ada relies on her piano in order to gain a voice. The only person who seems to understand this is Aborigine adopted George (Keitel) who makes advances towards his friend's new wife. Tensions boil over when they begin an affair, leading to many steamy scenes between Hunter and Keitel. What rivets you as an audience member has to be the profoundly momentous performance by Holly Hunter. She conveys so many emotional breakthroughs without the use of speech. Though Ada can write down her emotions easily enough, and has her daughter communicate through the use of sign language, she is still very isolated by her way of communication. Neill also gives a varied and heartbreaking performance as Ada's betrayed husband, Stewart, as he wavers between hatred and despicable lust. This is definitely an actor's film, belonging especially to the four main leads. Paquin is even impressive, which makes sense since it led to her win for Best Supporting Actress at the tender age of eleven. This is a beautiful film that speaks on distrust, freedom, and emotional expansion at the forfeit of being comfortable, something seen before but never executed so provocatively.
December 30, 2013

Super Reviewer

    1. Ada McGrath: The voice you hear is not my speaking voice, but my mind's voice. I have not spoken since I was six years old. No one knows why, not even me. My father says it is a dark talent, and the day I take it into my head to stop breathing will be my last. Today he married me to a man I have not yet met. Soon my daughter and I shall join him in his own country. My husband writes that my muteness does not bother him, and hark this! He says, 'God loves dumb creatures, so why not I?' Twere good he had God's patience, for silence affects everyone in the end. The strange thing is, I don't think myself silent. That is because of my piano. I shall miss it on the journey.
    – Submitted by Lea L (3 years ago)
    1. Ada McGrath: At night! I think of my piano in its ocean grave, and sometimes of myself floating above it. Down there everything is so still and silent that it lulls me to sleep. It is a weird lullaby and so it is; it is mine.
    – Submitted by Lea L (3 years ago)
    1. Ada McGrath: George has fashioned me a metal finger tip, I am quite the town freak which satisfies!
    – Submitted by Lea L (3 years ago)
    1. Ada McGrath: What a death! What a chance! What a surprise! My will has chosen life! Still it has had me spooked and many others besides!
    – Submitted by Lea L (3 years ago)
    1. Ada McGrath: The voice you hear is not my speaking voice, but my mind's voice.
    – Submitted by Mauricio R (3 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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Foreign Titles

  • Das Piano (DE)
  • La Leçon de piano (FR)
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