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The Piano Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    Campion's script is very well received, but the film finally makes it on cinematics: bleakly beautiful photography, haunting score, and good acting. [12 Nov 1993]

  • 100

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    By the end, Campion views all her characters with a compassion bordering on grace, a humanity-like her heroine's-as dark, quiet, and enveloping as the ocean.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    It is one of those rare movies that is not just about a story, or some characters, but about a whole universe of feeling.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Julie Salamon

    With its breathtaking visual style and careful attention to sound and movement, the movie provokes contemplation about the ways people communicate – through words, through music, through sex, and, most significantly, through touch. [14 Dec 1993, p.A14(E)]

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    In Jan Campion's The Piano, the emotions are deep, fierce, primordial. Sexuality overwhelms the film's characters like ocean waves blasting against a cliffside. [19 Nov 1993]

  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    A solid motion picture with a universal message and occasional splashes of genius, but it is remarkable only as Holly Hunter's performance is concerned.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 16+

Charged tale of a woman's awakening for older teens and up.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Piano is a complex adult drama with sexual relationships driving its plot. George is shown fully nude from the front in the beginning of a sex scene between him and Ada. In addition to a rather graphically staged play depicting violent acts, Ada's husband attacks Ada with a real axe, chopping off her finger -- a scene accentuated by blood squirting on the face of Ada's nearby daughter. He also holds George at gunpoint. While the language is not often explicit, the emotional intensity of the husband's rage is obviously heavy.

  • Families can talk about why it's important that Ada chooses not to speak, acting as a mute, despite having no physical disability preventing her from doing so. How does Stewart treat Ada and her piano? In contrast, how does George treat her? Is it right for George to blackmail Ada into sexual situations with him? Are Stewart's reactions to George and Ada appropriate or understandable? What function do the Maoris have in the film?

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: A graphic finger chopping scene.

  • sex false5

    Sex: Male and female full frontal nudity, consensual and forced sexual situations.

  • language false3

    Language: Not an issue