An Angel at My Table (1990) torrent download

An Angel at My Table

1990

Action / Biography / Drama

7.5

Synopsis

In 1920s and 1930s New Zealand, Janet Frame grows up in a poor family with lots of brothers and sisters. Already at an early age she is different from the other kids. She gets an education as a teacher but since she is considered abnormal she stays at a mental institution for eight years. Success comes when she starts to write novels.

Director

Jane Campion

Cast

Kerry Fox
as Janet Frame
Alexia Keogh
as Janet Frame as a child
Karen Fergusson
as Janet Frame as a teenager
Iris Churn
as Mother
Jessie Mune
as Janet Frame as a baby
Edith Campion
as Miss Lindsay

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by seababy 9 /10

a kindred spirit in janet frame...

I discovered this incredible film by accident, if there are such things as accidents like this...I saw the title in a movie review book (and a very brief summary) and it intrigued me. Because I knew it was a New Zealand import from years ago, I never even bothered trying to locate a copy. So when it called out to me months later from the shelves in the video shop, I felt eerily compelled to rent it. I watched it by myself in the wee hours of the morning--and it could not have been more ideal.

An Angel at My Table is the story of New Zealand's famous writer, Janet Frame. Fairly long, but never boring, it is told in three 50 minute interludes, taking us through her impoverished childhood, awkward adolescence, and the terrifying and eventually triumphant years that follow: Janet was a plump little girl, with an unruly mop of bright red hair. She was fascinated with books and stories at an early age ~ a friend had lent her a copy of Grimm's which she treasured. A certificate of merit in grade school allowed her the use of the public library where she became even more immersed in literature. Despite financial hardships, her father managed to buy her a journal "for her writings." By her late teens she was no longer plump, but a rather crippling shyness had set in. At social functions she played the wallflower. She preferred to be by herself, where she could nurture her passion for creating stories. She went on to become a teacher (though the idea no longer appealed to her), and suffered a panic attack when a supervisor "sat in" on one of her classes. It was advised that Janet have a psychiatric evaluation--a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia (later changed to nothing more than shyness and depression) landed her in a mental institution for eight years of electric shock therapy, each session she narrated to be: "equal in fear to that of an execution." She was scheduled for a partial lobotomy when news reached her doctors that she had won a national literary award--during her hospitalization her sister had published a book of Janet's short stories. She was almost immediately released under the premise that a talented author couldn't possibly need the treatment she had been receiving....At this point Janet was in her late twenties, but her lengthy "exile" had given the impression that she was considerably younger than that. A friend of the family's, another writer who admired her work, offered her a cottage on his property so that she could write seriously in a distraction-free environment. She accepted the offer and her first completed work there was accepted soon after. European travels were arranged for her, more successful books were born, and fame attained...

I've heard it claimed that Janet had also attained happiness, but I am not sure that I agree. Janet had found numerous freedoms, emotional and financial and of course physical, but happiness? I believe that she had become comfortable with herself, and perhaps that in itself is a happiness. She never did fit into the surrounding world--but lived peacefully alone on the vaporous outskirts. A very supportive therapist in London had told her, "If people tell you that you should go out there and mix, and you don't feel like it,...don't." She took his words to heart.

I was surprised with the overall beauty of this film~I guess I should not have been~the director was Jane Campion (The Piano, Portrait of a Lady). The New Zealand landscapes and backstreets of Spain were gorgeously rendered, the accompanying score at times both capricious and melancholy. But above all, what struck me most, was how I identified with Janet. The plump and impoverished childhood, the obsession with writing, the painful shyness and reclusiveness. The life of the outsider~luckily minus the stay in the psychiatric ward. On some level I was Janet (or am Janet). And there is something oddly redemptive in finding a twin on screen or in a book, however juvenile the notion...

Reviewed by Galina_movie_fan 9 /10

A Portrait of an Artist

"An Angel at My Table" (1990) made by Jane Campion is a true life-story of Janet Frame (1924-2004), New Zealand's most famous author. The film starts with young Jane, a funny -looking red haired girl, shy and quiet who knew too well that she was "poor, smelly, and unpopular". Then it follows her to misdiagnosis of schizophrenia and more than 200 electroshock treatments in a mental hospital where she had spent eight years and a severe, lifelong shyness that was her only problem. Even in the hospital she was writing and was able to have her book published - writing did save her from losing her mind. The film is based on three of her memoirs, "To the Is-land", "An Angel at My Table" and "The Envoy from Mirror City".

Jane Campion made a very affecting and quietly powerful portrait of a writer who also was a gentle and genuinely humble woman. The film is never a sentimental manipulating story of a talented but misunderstood artist. It does not idealize Frame but it is a very honest and sympathetic portrait of an artist.

Reviewed by zclark8 N/A

Easily one of my favorite films of the 90's.

An Angel at My Table tells the story of famed New Zealand author Janet Frame. We are drawn into the quiet world of the shy, red-haired girl who struggles with her life, but succeeds through her exceptional talent of writing. Since her autobiography was written in three separate volumes, we are treated to a film in three separate parts, beginning with her journey through childhood. The film does an excellent job at portraying the character of Frame, and her nervous attitude when brought into social situations. Every ounce of shyness is felt off-screen, which is a kudos to the direction of Campion, that plays an important part in making sure that this woman is brought to life, as realistic, and as close to the truth as possible.

Growing up in poverty, with two hard-working parents, and 4 siblings, life must've been hard. But when you're thrust into such a difficult situation, it somehow seems normal and it doesn't bother that it's a much harder life than other people currently living are. But Janet lived through her childhood, finding that she would love to spend her life as a poet, or just writing. A depression hit her hard during her teenage years when an unexpected tragedy occurred, and she had chosen to write, instead of being with that person beforehand. Not knowing she was a depressed young person, Frame was sent to a mental hospital, and forced to undergo several shock treatments, under the incorrect diagnosis of schizophrenia. However, Frame persevered through it, using writing as a way of expressing her own thoughts. While still in the mental hospital, she was able to publish a book. The years inside the hospital are the most unpleasant of film, and Campion perfectly captures the deranged conditions that Janet experienced. The most remarkable part about the direction is how it doesn't go over the top to deliver a nauseating film in those scenes. Rather, she plays to the quiet personality of Frame. The film is kept with the same pace, and focused in a way that never wants to show itself off, but keeps the main character always in the center, without losing that focus.

The blown-up biopic `Malcolm X' was released around a year later, and while I admire that film, it was also very hyped-up before it's release. I found a strange drawing power in the fact that Jane Campion's film wasn't about spectacle, but about someone's life that is done more sincerely, and realistically, paying close attention to details, both period and human. Something you wouldn't find in a Hollywood biopic, such as Milos Foreman's `Man on the Moon,' which I openly despise.

The writer and director surprised me a bit concerning a small detail in the film. In films concerning `writing', and an exceptional author (Wonder Boys, Finding Forrester), there is never any real proof of how good the writer supposedly is. We are never allowed to read the great book they wrote, nor are there much of any excerpts written to prove to us that the writer is indeed as great as it is suggested. In films, I realize that it really isn't possible to show such a thing, since film is a visual medium instead of a literary one. Campion and the screenwriter know this, and without subjecting us to Frame's writing, she adds in some narration, using actress Kerry Fox's voice. The narration is spread out in small bits throughout the film, never taking control of telling the story. Instead, it conveys the thoughts going on in Frame's mind, which are all little excerpts from the writing contained in her autobiographies. It begins with narration and ends with it. A surprising detail that is small, but adds much to the overall film, and gives the ending a sweet, and optimistic touch to an amazing film.

Frame was (is) talented at what she did most of the time, without knowing the talent was there. She only knew that she loved to do it, and wanted to continue doing it for the rest of her life. That is true talent. She had it, even at times when she thought there wasn't any hope; she had the ability to write. And because of that ability, that talent, she was able to gradually come to terms, and live comfortably with her life. ****1/2 of five or (9/10)

Read more IMDb reviews