The Piano ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Striking visuals and heavenly music accompany a touching romance.

Jane Campion’s erotic period romance drama The Piano (1993) is a stunning piece of art. Campion’s direction boasts a visual flair like only a true auteur can manage. Her imagery is so stark and memorable as she conveys deep desires of lust and love within a single shot. Every frame of The Piano is well thought out to portray a forbidden love similar to the likes of The Scarlet Letter or Brokeback Mountain visually. Campion earns her respected status as a director of great visual and storytelling prowess with her effortless direction for The Piano. I am impressed by the love scenes as well as the chase in the rain set to Michael Nyman’s lovely piano score. The music weaves in and out of each scene crafting a dreamy romance of powerful feelings and quiet love.

Jane Campion’s writing is so realistic. Every word exchanged between lovers feels like a genuine conversation. Campion’s verbal style is subtle, expressive, and authentic to her unique characters. She writes a love triangle like no other herein The Piano. Her direction for the romantic interactions feels reverential towards the male and female bodies. She brings a respectful tastefulness to her film. Combining stellar writing and gentle phrasing and passionate desire is extraordinarily powerful alongside her focused direction. No wonder The Piano made Jane Campion a famous director the world over. Veronika Jenet’s editing is gentle and dreamy as she only cuts to specific gazes and particular visuals Campion wants you to see.

Stuart Dryburgh’s cinematography is beautiful as he captures intimate feelings indoors and vast New Zealand vistas in the natural forests of the isolated country. You can tell both Dryburgh and Campion adore New Zealand’s striking backdrop. You feel like you are looking at paradise while watching The Piano. All the mud, forest, and sunlight start to have an effect on you for sure.

Janet Patterson’s costumes are wondrous with soft cloths and pretty patterns for all the clothes. Her black dresses are sincerely beautifully woven and designed. All the lace layers and colorful lining make her dresses unique. Likewise, her Kiwi clothes for Sam Neill and Scottish outfits for Harvey Keitel are really cool and detailed.

Holly Hunter is amazing in her leading role for The Piano as a mute piano lover. She’s very expressive even without sound. She is certainly beautiful in The Piano, but it’s the way she sways while playing the piano and draws her hands along skin that is so sensual and engaging in The Piano. Anna Paquin is remarkable as a playful and precocious liar and beloved daughter to Hunter’s figure. Sam Neill is excellent as the jealous husband, who is not affectionate, but who desperately wants to be. Harvey Keitel steals the shows with a nuanced performance as a Scottish labourer in service to Neill’s landowner, who admires music and the lady that plays it.

In short, The Piano is a magical romance drama of hidden feelings and silent expressions. If you pay attention, you will get an entire relationship out of every shot, word, motion, and note.