An Angel at My Table (1990)
December 5, 2022 2:50 PM - Subscribe

Janet Frame was a brilliant child who, as a teen, was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. Explore Janet's discovery of the world and her life in Europe as her books are published to acclaim. Trailer.

95% on Rotten Tomatoes; available in the U.S. on HBO Max, Criterion, AppleTV, and Amazon: JustWatch listing.
posted by johnofjack (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This film! Aaaaaaaaaah! This film. Who are these 5% Philistines?
posted by johnofjack at 2:51 PM on December 5, 2022 [2 favorites]

Watched this for the first time last year when Blank Check did their Campion miniseries. I'd just watched Power of the Dog, and had only really watched The Piano before, but I really fell in love with Campion's off-kilter sensibilities over the course of the series. This movie was a particular delight.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:22 PM on December 5, 2022 [3 favorites]

Frame’s writing is vivid and wonderful. I find her overwhelming because she’s very good
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:49 AM on December 6, 2022

When I was a young teen in Mississippi, we got what the local video store gave us. Blockbuster had a selection of art films, and although we had little context and only a few reviews, my mom knew she wanted to see something "good" every once in a while. So when this came to the Blockbuster, we got it. I had absolutely no idea what to make of it. I was bewildered and moved, as well as embarrassed to be watching something so intimate with my parents.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:15 AM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

I realize that this thread is for discussion of the film, but if anyone wanted to leave a thought or two about which of Frame's novels might be a recommended place to check out her work, I suspect I'm not the only one who might be interested.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:34 PM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

We watched An Angel at my Table in high school literature class, and then the teacher asked us to write a letter to Janet Frame. One of the kids decided to provide a drawing of Frame getting ECT, lightning bolts and all. (Classy.)

Frame was, at the time, secretly living in our city. The teacher sent our letters to her - including that drawing. We never got a response.
posted by Paragon at 1:43 PM on December 6, 2022 [3 favorites]

I vaguely remember seeing bits of this years ago on HBO or something. But one of those bits really stuck with me:

Some time around midfilm, there's a brief clip where teenage Janet is sitting on a cliff's edge with her sisters and they're all singing a verse from the folk song Duncan Gray - that scene is at the start of this video here, and the lyrics are:
Time and chance are but a tide,
Ha, ha, the wooin o't!
Slighted love is sair to bide,
Ha, ha, the wooin o't!
"Shall I, like a fool," quoth he,
"For a haughty hizzie die?
She may gae to France for me!"—
Ha, ha, the wooin o't!
And then we move into a whole sequence of the adult Janet Frame finding her footing in a writing career, first leaving New Zealand for Europe. First she spends some time in England, but doesn't quite fit in; still, she's making progress in her writing. And then - at one point she has the chance to go to Paris.

And the scene when she arrives at her first flat in Paris is what stuck with me - she's timidly looking around the quiet flat, looking with wonder at everything, and then looking out the window at the street below; wonderstruck, not really able to believe she's there. And after an awestruck moment of staring out the window, she whispers: "She may gae to France for me..." and then, tearing up, she finishes singing, "Ha, ha, the wooin' o't!"

I remember very little of the rest of the film, but that scene was beautiful.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:06 AM on December 8, 2022

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