Jane Campion’s films exist in a zone between knowing and not knowing, a visual quiet. Her ability to use everyday imagery that is fully understandable but has an extraordinary mystique about it enchants. Campion’s cinematic style includes abstraction, which is not always easy to follow. Her characters are also used to convey these concepts. This absurdity allows her to explore the human mind, particularly with regards to gender, sexuality, and the manifestation of discomfort in the quest for meaning. Over the years, we’ve ranked all of Jane Campion’s films.

1. Sweetie (1989)

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Cast- Karen Colston, Genevieve Lemon, Tom Cyos

introspective Kay is convinced that she and Louis are destined to fall in love, despite the fact that he is engaged to her coworker, Cheryl. That fate could alter if the fortunes of the next symbol of their romance, a sickly elder tree Louis plants in their garden on their one-year anniversary, go her way. The arrival of Kay’s once institutionalised sister Dawn, dubbed Sweetie, and Sweetie’s current boyfriend, Bob, who Sweetie hopes will help her break into show business, puts their relationship under strain.

Kay’s pleadings to her father Gordon for assistance in getting Sweetie out of her house are mostly ignored because he has never judged Sweetie, whom he still regards as his performing loving little child. Gordon is dealing with his own problems, as Kay and Sweetie’s mother, Flo, has just put him on a trial separation, their problems arising mostly from his need to protect Sweetie at all costs, Sweetie who had been living with them most lately.

2. The Piano (1993)

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Cast- Holly Hunter, Anna Paquin, Harvey Keitel

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It’s the middle of the nineteenth century. Ada is deaf and has a small daughter named Flora. She leaves her native Scotland with her daughter and her beloved piano in an arranged marriage. Her new life amid the harsh forests of New Zealand’s North Island, as well as her relationship with her new husband Stewart, is not all she had hoped for. When Stewart sells her piano to a neighbour, George, she is tormented and bereft. Ada learns from George that she can reclaim her piano by teaching him to play it, but only under specific conditions. Ada despises George at first, but their friendship changes through time, putting them in a dangerous predicament.

3. Bright Star (2009)

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Cast- Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw, Thomas Brodie-Sangster

It’s 1818 in Hampstead Village on London’s outskirts. The Dilkes family resides in one half of a house, while poet Charles Brown dwells in the other. Mr. Brown is known to the fatherless Brawne family through their friendship with the Dilkes. Mr. Brown and Fanny, the Brawne’s eldest daughter, are not friends. She considers him arrogant and nasty, while he considers her a pretentious flirt who only understands how to sew and expresses opinions on topics about which she has no knowledge.

John Keats, an insecure striving poet, moves in with his buddy Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown does everything he can to keep Miss Brawne and Mr. Keats away, but their love takes a long time to grow. Mr. Keats’ difficult work, which affords him little in the way of monetary stability, and health issues, which had previously claimed the life of Mr. Keats’ brother, Tom, are among the challenges facing the pair.

4. The Power Of The Dog (2021)

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Cast- Benedict Cumberbatch, Kristen Dunst, Jesse Plemons

Rural Montana in 1925. The polar opposite Burbank brothers—swaggering, boorish Phil and stylish, mild-mannered George—have been operating the family’s rich ranch for decades, harbouring a silent but apparent conflict over everything. Phil takes tremendous joy in abusing his soft-spoken sibling, completely oblivious to the fact that change is on the horizon, thanks to his late mentor “Bronco” Henry’s magnetism and unwavering skill. As an accidental encounter with widowed lodging house owner Rose and her sensitive adolescent son Peter develops to an unexpectedly deep friendship, cruel Phil chooses to focus his attention away from his problems and on the silent boy—an easy target. Harassment and abuse are increasingly leading to depression and alcoholism. However, secrets can occasionally be hidden in plain sight.

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5. An Angel At My Table (1990)

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Cast- Alexia Keogh, Karen Fergusson, Kerry Fox

Based on Janet Frame’s three autobiographical writings, this is her life story. It chronicles her upbringing in a loving but impoverished home in New Zealand. The first half of the film is about her relationship with her adoring parents, one brother, and three beloved sisters. She was a bright young lady who was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia when she was a teenager. The outcome of such diagnosis is vividly depicted. Janet’s travel of the world and life in Europe are depicted in the final third of the film, when her novels are released to critical acclaim.

6. In The Cut (2003)

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Cast- Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Frankie Avery is a New York City teacher who begins dating NYPD Detective Malloy, who is investigating the murder of a young woman, part of whose body was discovered in the garden outside of Frannie’s apartment. Malloy believes the victim was murdered by a serial killer. Despite catching Malloy in a lie that could have fatal consequences, she continues her relationship with him outside of the murder inquiry. She learns additional evidence pointing to him being the serial killer as the relationship progresses.

7. Holy Smoke! (1999)

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Cast- Kate Winslet, Harvey Keitel, Sophie Lee

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Ruth Barron and a companion from Sans Souci, Sydney, Australia, take a journey to Delhi, India, where Ruth witnesses a Hindu religious ritual and decides to stay. Miriam, Ruth’s mother, travels to Chandni Chowk in Delhi, where she meets Ruth and is shocked by her living conditions. She informs Ruth that her father has suffered a stroke and is unlikely to survive. Ruth, now known as Naznee, initially refuses, but eventually relents and returns home with her mother. She decorates her room with pictures of Bhagwan Shri Shiv, Bhagwan Shri Kishan, and Devi Maa Lakshmi, and she will soon discover that the real reason for her return is to spend time alone in a half-way hut in the desert with a renowned ‘Cult Exiter,’ PJ Waters – and everyone’s lives will change forever as a result of this encounter.

8. The Portrait Of A Lady (1996)

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Cast- Barbara Hershey, Nicole Kidman, Christian Bale

Isabel Archer, a free-thinking American heiress, travels to Europe to find herself. Caspar Goodwood, another American who has followed her to England, approaches her and she politely declines. Ralph Touchett, her smart but ill cousin, becomes a sort of soulmate for her. She forms an unlucky alliance with the frightening Madame Merle, which leads to an even more unlucky partnership with Gilbert Osmond, a charming but frigid Objets’ de art collector who seduces her with an intense but unattainable sexuality.

Isabel marries Osmond only to discover that she is nothing more than a piece of art in his collection, and that Madame Merle and Osmond are lovers plotting to steal Isabel’s riches. Isabel’s sole solace comes from Osmond’s innocent daughter, Pansy, but even that connection is shattered when Osmond’s sister, Countess Gemini, discloses the child’s true origin. Isabel finally breaks free from Osmond and returns to Ralph’s bedside, where they both understand how physically, emotionally, and spiritually connected they are as he breathes his last.

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