Piano, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -3

This unusual story takes place in the 1800's in sparsely populated New Zealand. Ada, a mute Scottish young woman (Holly Hunter), and her young daughter (Anna Paquin) are brought by boat to meet the man she has agreed to marry. They wait on an isolated beach for her new husband, Stewart (Sam Neill), to come take them to their new home in the jungle. Along with their trunks is Ada's beloved piano. When the husband finally arrives, he is accompanied by natives to help carry the belongings. Unfortunately, they have no way to take the piano, so it stays on the beach. Since this piano is Ada's sole means of expression, she is very angry with Stewart. An illiterate Englishman (Harvey Keitel) named Baines, who lives among the natives, agrees to get the piano and put it in his house. In return, Ada must teach him to play. Gradually, Baines and Ada become lovers with tragic consequences. Ms. Hunter's portrayal of the spirited mute whose life revolves around her daughter and her piano is truly outstanding. However, sketchy background details make the story difficult to understand. Gorgeous photography and musical score add to the appeal of this art film.

The strange habits of the natives include the children playing some games that are obviously simulating sexual activities. The natives taunt each other about their sex lives in a few scenes, using crude expressions for genitals. The central theme of adultery has dire consequences, but the explicit sexual intercourse scenes and nudity are shocking. Full frontal male, obscured frontal female nudity, breast nudity and rear nudity are offensive. Another crude scene shows a middle aged woman urinating on a hillside. When Ada's husband discovers her infidelity, he chops off her finger. In a very symbolical scene, Ada almost drowns when she is caught up in a rope attached to the piano. If AGE OF INNOCENCE successfully conveyed passion without nudity or graphic sex, why couldn't THE PIANO?

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Miramax Films, 18 E. 48th St., Ste. 1601, NY NY 10017

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several (5) times - Moderate

Obscene Language: Few (3) times (no s- or f-words)

Profanity: Exclamatory - Few (3) times

Violence: Few times - Moderate and Severe (gun threat, slapping, near drowning, and finger cut off with axe)

Sex: Few times with full nudity; very graphic; obscured oral sex

Nudity: Several times (full frontal male; rear male and female; breast and obscured frontal female) Near nudity (natives in loin cloths); obscured nudity (native children)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several times (woman massages husband; man caresses woman; crude conversations among natives; children play sex game)

Drugs: None

Other: Crude scene of woman urinating

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adult

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