AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE has been reviewed in the context of a retrospective of Jane Campion. A DVD box set containing all of the films of the director will be available from October 28, 2015.

Jane Campion, focuses in his second feature film AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE to follow the life of a character real, the writer is a new zealand (1924-2004) Janet Frame, who collaborated on the screenplay for the film, Grand Jury Prize at the Venice film Festival in 1990.

A story cut into three parts almost equal and linear, from childhood to adulthood that bear the name of books that she has written : To the Island, an Angel at my table and The envoy from mirror city.

Summary of the first two parts of the film

The first two parts are the most interesting, the founders of the writer she will become. We follow in his childhood and adolescence very poor this little girl, plump with reddish hair. The details of the patched up clothes, and lack of hygiene are very well shown. At the school, then in institute of young girls, she is, knows itself to be different, more sensitive than the others, suffers from loneliness, or even social phobia and yet inhabits it. It is still in the process of devouring food, and books. By the look naïve and quirky as it relates to the world, as an observer of his own life, his innocence touching, the complicity has she has with her father, who offers him the books, and the cluster is united with his 3 sisters, of whom the two eldest, will die suddenly, we understand why Jane Campion has chosen to make a film about him. There, she found a couple of themes dear to his heart : the loneliness, the family and especially the sisters, the relationship to the body, the place of man, and the desire, the madness, the relation to death. It would also have been able to dig up the fact that the twin sister of Janet, died two weeks after their birth.

We see her going to school to become a teacher, because he must earn his life, and fail during an inspection, but this will allow him to accept the fact that she wants to be a writer.

What we hang on to in the second part, it is the transcription, very realistic and without any concession by Jane Campion of the universe of the psychiatric hospital for women in which will be interned Janet diagnosed schizophrenic. His body and his teeth, which little by little degrade, electroconvulsive therapy that she underwent (more than 200), the folly of his kin, the treatment bizarre carried out by the nurses, and the incredible power of the doctors of the 50’s. But as long as Janet has what to write about, everything is going well, which is not always the case. Jane Campion is also wearing a hard look on the world of ” valid “. Then, thanks to a literary prize, she is freed after 8 years and does not have to undergo the lobotomy is scheduled. It is then put in contact with writer Frank Sagerson, who encouraged him to write, in welcoming him, as a brother and a mentor, at home. This relationship platonic and intellectual, peer-to-peer, recognizing his talent opens him the doors of the publishing world. End of the second part, she share in Europe, open to the world.

The 3rd party is frankly very boring, it is boring to see Janet, played by the actress Kerry Fox, open his eyes amazed at the landscapes, the encounters, even if this strengthens their self-confidence and allows him to meet the love, to suffer a miscarriage, to work as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital… and back in New Zealand at the death of his father, to assert itself fully as a recognized writer. Our empathy for this woman wears actually at this time ! This is the difficulty of a biopic with a screenplay written by the person source of inspiration even for the biopic : where is the leg of Jane Campion and where is that of Janet Frame in this part ? This, one would know by comparing the book An angel at my Table movie.

As to the choice of relegating the man to this presence almost evil capable of sealing in two words a destiny, says as much about the time, the place of women in society (regardless of era)

On the other side, Janet Frame is a talented woman, but without any character, that can be also worn by these men that it is idolatrous, but that it does not know, or understand. This makes it all the more upsetting to his fate ! The way in which is treated the desire is just as fascinating : her virginity is from this point of view, because of his talent, but also that of its loss. This desire that she indulges ever, that it receives and/or transposes in what she can (chocolates, fantasies, neighbouring Spanish, gramophone, etc).

And do deflower no longer a means to satisfy her. It remains the home of Janet Frame and for us, this lack, this feeling of having missed something. The research of the desire turns in Janet Frame, in search of love. But at the end of 30 years, is not it a bit too late to discover these things ?

“Poetry, beauty and magic in AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE film pure and simple, which traces the life of a personality that is touching the margins of society.”

We regretted the ease almost systematic on the part of the filmmaker to want to surprise and disturb the linearity of the narrative by the death of the sisters, or internment, without almost to worry about want to integrate it in a way cinematic, and take a spectator yet acquired to his cause, hostage by this decision egocentric a tad opportunistic ! But, let’s end on a positive note : some of us have seen poetry, beauty and magic in this film pure and simple which traces the life of a personality that is touching the margins of society.

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Hasrtiste and filmmaker prominent in recent years, Jane Campion was illustrated in browsing themes, singular and universal, personal and common to all, original and timeless. We take advantage of the re-release of his films on video to draw a portrait of the filmmaker through the analysis of the completeness of his work.



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