Originally produced as a three-part miniseries for New Zealand television, this extraordinary film is based on the life of Janet Frame, an introverted, sensitive girl who was later misdiagnosed as schizophrenic and spent eight years in a psychiatric hospital. She would later become one of New Zealand's most celebrated poets and novelists, publishing her first books while she was still confined to a mental ward. She had endured over 200 electroshock treatments and had almost been lobotomized by careless physicians who took no time to understand that she was merely awkward and shy and suffered from little more than routine depression. From a solid screenplay by Laura Jones, director Jane Campion (The Piano) tells this story without soapy melodrama, but rather as an exploration of a challenged creative spirit--a journey into a writer's mind, exploring the power of imagination as a mechanism of survival and self-defense. Three talented actors play Janet Frame at different ages throughout the film, with Kerry Fox giving a powerful performance as the young-adult Janet, whose own skill and creative tenacity would prove to be her salvation. Frightening, harrowing, and ultimately a source of humanistic enlightenment, An Angel at My Table (titled after Frame's autobiography) is a film you won't soon forget. --Jeff Shannon
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