In the right director's hands, the life of the guy who sold you your last toaster could be both a box office hit and an Academy Award nominee. This shouldn't be a revelation to anyone whose followed film in the last couple decades, but it's still an interesting idea. If you slap "based on a true story" on anything, you will have successfully baited the hook. Janet Frame might not be the most interesting character in the world, but Jane Campion has the good sense and poet's eye to know a good story when she sees it.
An Angel at My Table was originally planned as a miniseries but was given the go-ahead to be released in theaters, still split into three separate sections. The film lets us into the world of Janet Frame, the famed poet and novelist from New Zealand who suffered eight years in a mental hospital and went through roughly 200 rounds of electro-shock therapy. Thankfully, her collection of short stories, The Lagoon, was published and that sped her exit from the hospital and saved her from a lobotomy. Soon after, Frame became quite a big deal and traveled through Europe, ultimately ending up back in New Zealand.
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