Jane Campion

Jane Campion – The Portrait of a Lady (1996)

Jane Campion directs this notable adaptation of the Henry James novel, The Portrait of a Lady of 1881.
Independent woman Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman) refuses two suitors, Lord Warburton (Richard E. Grant) and Caspar Goodwood (Viggo Mortensen), when they propose marriage. Instead she travels to Florence, where family friend Madame Merle introduces her to Gilbert Osmond (John Malkovich) and his daughter Pansy. Soon Isabel finds herself falling for the mysterious Osmond. They are engaged to be married within three months, but much unhappiness lies ahead. Read More »

Jane Campion – Passionless Moments (1983)

Review (Geraldine Bloustien, ‘Jane Campion: memory, motif and music’. Continuum)
Passionless Moments, although possibly one of Campion’s most whimsical pieces, has all
the hallmarks of her later films. It is concerned with the insignificant, unsolicited
moments of daydreaming when one is caught almost unawares. The film consists of ten
self-contained vignettes of the sudden thoughts of ten very different individuals.
Classical Hollywood cinema concerns itself with the heightened moments of passion of
individuals with whom we identify in some way because of their bravery, humour, innocence,
heroic qualities and so on. In traditional feature films and documentaries we are usually
introduced to the characters’ backgrounds, motives and problems. However, in Passionless
Moments the characters serve only to illustrate some quirky aspect of human nature and
relationships. Read More »

Jane Campion – An Angel at My Table (1990)

Here is the story of a curly-haired little redhead who grew up to be one of New Zealand’s best authors, after enduring ordeals that would have put most people into a madhouse. The irony is that she was already in the madhouse, misdiagnosed as a schizophrenic, and subjected to more than 200 electroshock treatments even though there was nothing really wrong with her except for shyness and depression. Read More »

Jane Campion – Bright Star (2009)

London 1818: a secret love affair begins between 23 year-old English poet, John Keats (Ben Whishaw), and the girl next door, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), an out-spoken student of high fashion. This unlikely pair begin at odds, he thinking her a stylish minx, while she was unimpressed not only by his poetry but also by literature in general. Read More »

Jane Campion – An Exercise in Discipline – Peel (1982)


Review (Geraldine Bloustien, ‘Jane Campion: memory, motif and music’. Continuum)
Peel explores the dynamics of family relationships and the way patterns of power can be
learnt and repeated. It also says a great deal about our need for daydreams and fantasies.
The film opens with a juxtaposed, almost cacophonous mixture of sounds and visual images –
the noise of the radio being switched from station to station, the flash of cars on the
roadway, the white lines on the road and the thump of what we discover is an orange
being thrown against the front windscreen of the car, like a ball. In contrast to this
nerve-jangling montage, the graphics after the large and forceful title – PEEL – present
us with a diagram connecting the words ‘sister’, ‘brother’ and ‘son’ in a triangle and
we are informed, again through the written text, that the film explores ‘an exercise in
discipline’ and that this is a ‘real story’ of ‘a real family’. In other words, it would
seem at first sight that we are being asked to regard this film as a scientific study, a
documentary exploring anthropological patterns of kinship, perhaps. However, the
contrast between the opening montage of subjective images with the more formal graphics
already alerts us to the tension in the car and that all may not be as it seems. Read More »

Jane Campion – Sweetie [+extras] (1989)



Explores sisters, in their twenties, their parents, and family dysfunctions. Kay is gangly and slightly askew, consulting a fortune teller and then falling in love with a man because of a mole on his face and a lock of hair; then, falling out of love when he plants a tree in their yard. Sweetie is plump, imperious, self-centered, and seriously mentally ill. The parents see none of the illness, seeing only their cute child. Kay mainly feels exasperation at her sister’s impositions. Slowly, the film exposes how the roots of Sweetie’s illness have choked Kay’s own development. Read More »

Jane Campion – The Piano (1993)


A mute woman along with her young daughter, and her prized piano, are sent to 1850s New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, and she’s soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation.


“The Piano” is as peculiar and haunting as any film I’ve seen.

It tells a story of love and fierce pride, and places it on a bleak New Zealand coast where people live rudely in the rain and mud, struggling to maintain the appearance of the European society they’ve left behind. It is a story of shyness, repression and loneliness; of a woman who will not speak and a man who cannot listen, and of a willful little girl who causes mischief and pretends she didn’t mean to. Read More »