Originally produced as a three-part miniseries for New Zealand television, this extraordinary film is based on the life of Janet Frame, an introverted, sensitive girl who was later misdiagnosed as schizophrenic and spent eight years in a psychiatric hospital. She would later become one of New Zealand's most celebrated poets and novelists, publishing her first books while she was still confined to a mental ward. She had endured over 200 electroshock treatments and had almost been lobotomized by careless physicians who took no time to understand that she was merely awkward and shy and suffered from little more than routine depression. From a solid screenplayby Laura Jones, director Jane Campion (The Piano
) tells this story without soapy melodrama but rather as anexploration of a challenged creative spirit--a journey into a writer's mind, exploring the power of imagination as a mechanism of survival and self-defense. Three talented actors play Janet Frame at different ages throughout the film, with Kerry Fox giving a powerful performance as the young-adult Janet, whose own skill and creative tenacity would prove to be her salvation. Frightening, harrowing and ultimately a source of humanistic enlightenment, An Angel at My Table
(titled after Frame's autobiography) is a film you won't soon forget.--Jeff Shannon
'An Angel at My Table' is the internationally acclaimed second film by Oscar-winning director Jane Campion ('The Piano', 'In the Cut'). It is an extraordinarily moving celebration of the life of Janet Frame, New Zealand's most distinguished author, based on her autobiographical trilogy. The film follows Janet through her poor Depression-era childhood and her growing fascination with literature; her painfully shy student days and her subsequent treatment for misdiagnosed schizophrenia; and finally on her travels to Europe where she samples Bohemian life and achieves international success as a writer. Kerry Fox ('Intimacy', 'Shallow Grave') is outstanding in the leading role of the adult Janet.