ANGEL AT MY TABLE
Starring: Kerry Fox, Alexia Keogh &
Runtime: 158 minutes
Distributor: Fine Line Features
Director: Jane Campion
Producer: Bridget Ikin
Writer: Laura Jones
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The film is divided into three sections, each based on one of the three volumes in Janet Frame's acclaimed autobiography: TO THE ISLAND, AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE and THE ENVOY FROM MIRROR CITY.
The first section tells the story of Frame's Depression-era childhood and early adolescence on the South Island of rural New Zealand, and explores her relationships with her parents and four siblings, her discovery of storytelling, her love of writing, and her growing shyness and sensitivity.
In part two, the grown Janet goes off to college to study to become a teacher, but soon retreats even further into herself and her writing. She is misdiagnosed as schizophrenic, is hospitalized for eight years and undergoes more than 200 shock treatments. She is only released upon public recognition of her literary talent and the surprising success of her first novel.
In the third section, Frame travels through Europe on a literary fellowship, discovering life and experiencing the Bohemian literary world of the 1950's in London and Ibiza, Spain. She enjoys her first romance (unfortunately, fornication is implied, prompting later what seems to be a self-induced miscarriage/abortion), is cleared of her earlier misdiagnosis and ultimately returns to New Zealand a successful and independent woman.
All in all, director Jane Campion details Frame's story with disarming honesty and insight, the horrors of Frame's life are far overshadowed by her literary and personal triumphs. Superbly crafted, AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE is a moving and affirming celebration which spans four decades in the life of a unique and singularly talented woman. The film is engrossing and uplifting, and certainly worth an investment of 158 minutes, since ANGEL has already won more than 20 international awards.