An Angel At My Table Jane Campion

The true introvert is an anomaly in a culture that prizes extroversion. Janet Frame, the subject of Jane Campion's An Angel At My Table, was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to a New Zealand institution where she received more than 200 shock treatments over an eight-year period and was scheduled for a lobotomy in 1951, all because of an anguish she couldn't name or understand. Simply put, she was painfully shy. (The lobotomy was cancelled only after Frame won a major literary prize.) An Angel At My Table, like Frame's writing, avoids pretension and tells her story in a linear fashion. Some film writers feel that Campion's trademark projection of the internal world of the characters onto the external world of the film is only sometimes present, but I'd disagree — Frame extinguishing a candle to signal the end of an affair, a child's game highlighting the importance of human and "divine" intervention, and Frame's mother looming over her like an albatross could all be counted as her trademark projection. Kerry Fox was born to play Janet Frame. Years before the scripts for Shallow Grave, Intimacy or The Hanging Garden found her, Fox understood Frame's reverence for detail by concentrating on her child-like naivety and wonder. The DVD extras include a rare radio interview in which Frame describes her creative process, and though the "making of" extra is more like a vignette than a documentary, the deleted scenes are a revelation to dedicated Campion fans. There's also an audio commentary by Campion, Fox and Stuart Dryburgh, the director of photography. An Angel At My Table is a must-see for the Campion faithful, and a should-see for everyone else. (Criterion/Paradox)