The Piano seemed like typical Oscar bait to me at first glance; it’s a period piece, with a mute protagonist, a romantic tale told in sombre tones, sweeping and muted cinematography, and a swooning musical piano score. By the time I finished the film, my opinion of it hadn’t changed in the slightest. Forget about The English Patient, The Piano is now signature Oscar bait in my mind; everything about it just seemed perfectly attuned to garnering awards like there was no tomorrow.
I don’t really know how to delve into this any more than my sardonic opening statement. I didn’t mention the performances, which were very well done, especially by Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin, who each won an Oscar for their role. The one main thing the film had going for it was the angle of the sexual tension between Baines, played by Harvey Keitel, and Ada, exquisitely played by Hunter; I don’t think I’ve ever seen such blatant and in-your-face sexual frustration and action in a film before. Now, granted, for me, this was entirely one-sided; Baines showed obvious attraction to Ada, but I saw no such attraction on the part of Ada, even up to the point of their first sexual encounter. It was only when the film literally forced it to happen that I was even able to see it; there was no build-up, or escalating feelings, just… it was time for it to happen, so let’s just have it happen.
The Piano was a tale of love the likes of which I don’t think I’ve seen before: a love tale without the actual love existing. The film just pushed forward regardless of whether or not the characters were willing or ready to go that far. The whole thing just screamed of uncomfortability, which wasn’t helped by the copious amounts of nudity that seemed to be there just to flash in our faces. I’ve never encountered a film with such high production value and great amount of effort used on a film that seemed to care so little about itself or its own story. It was all so inexplicable, and I found very little to like about it, other than the technicals, which were high above par. I don’t know how anyone reading this might react to the film, so I can’t really give a recommendation either way; all I can say is, if you’re interested, give it a try, and see if you end up liking it more than I did.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10