|Spanish subtitles House of Sand and Fog||4 years ago|
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|Farsi/Persian subtitles House of Sand and Fog||4 years ago|
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|Chinese subtitles House of Sand and Fog||5 years ago|
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|Farsi/Persian subtitles House of Sand and Fog||5 years ago|
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An unfailingly beautiful piece of work
10/10 "House of Sand and Fog" is by far the finest film I've seen this year, and probably the best I've seen since the dial turned from the 1990's into the new millennium.4 years ago
Vadim Perelman makes a movie so astoundingly beautiful that one has to think he's been doing this for years, but this is his first film. Set in a fog-drenched Southern California community, Perelman sets two immoveable forces apart from each other -- Cathy, a recovering alcoholic burdened by the memory of her late father, still trying to prove that she is a responsible person in his eyes, and Behrani, a colonel driven out of Iran with his family and desperately trying to maintain a life of stability and promise. In these two roles, Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley give steely performances, each presenting troubled souls trapped within stubborn facades. Connelly once again gives a masterful performance, balancing a reckless sensuality with the desire to find acceptance and love within anything, even a house where the memories have become so painful that the mail becomes too much to take.
Kingsley, of course, is perfect. The subtleties of his facial expressions when presented with moments of joy and frustration are masterfully restrained. This is his best performance of his illustrious career.
When Kingsley and Connelly finally clash, halfway through the movie, the movie, having until then been a paean to silence and unspoken loyalties, becomes a terrifying thriller, riveting everyone with whom I saw the picture. Perelman moves from a mood piece to a suspenseful drama effortlessly. A jaw-dropping conclusion completes a powerful, unbelievably sad piece of work.
After a couple years of not finding a movie that stirred me, this is it, what we all look for in movies -- a harrowing story, beautifully filmed, cathartic and elegant. Joy is very difficult to spot in the film, but "House of Sand and Fog" provides the joy we get when being moved to powerful emotions by a wonderful symphony.
My best film of 2003 -- unquestionably 10/10.
Brilliant, but Excruciatingly Tragic
10/10 Since antiquity, tragedy has been regarded as the highest and most important form of drama for its ability to arouse the deepest sense of pathos and empathy from its audience.4 years ago
Remind yourself of this if you choose to watch 'House of Sand and Fog.' I can state emphatically that 'House' is one of the most artfully directed and acted films of the last five years, but make no mistake: it is a tragedy, and only the hardest and most jaded of hearts will emerge from the experience undisturbed. It is a dissertation on sorrow, and while I'm glad I saw it, I can't say I had a whole lot of fun.
'House' was directed by newcomer Vadim Perelman, who also adapted the screenplay from the acclaimed novel by Andre Dubus III. Perelman tweaks the story in some respects but is ultimately faithful to the novel's style and sensibility. As in the novel, the story is filtered through alternating perspectives, the foremost of which are Behrani (Ben Kingsley), a Persian ex-pat and a former high-ranking officer under the Shah in Iran, and Kathy Lazaro (Jennifer Connelly), a severely depressed recovering alcoholic tenuously holding onto sobriety but nevertheless gradually self-destructing after the collapse of her marriage.
The two characters are drawn together, appropriately enough, by the house of the title, a small but elegant coastal property in fictional Pacific County, California (the novel sets the house in Malibu). The house belongs to Kathy, who inherited it (along with her older brother, who lives elsewhere) from her deceased father. Kathy has become a victim of a bureaucratic snafu--she has been erroneously charged with delinquency on taxes for a non-existent business--but due to her textbook depressive refusal to open and answer her mail, she wakes up one morning to find that the county has evicted her and put her property up for auction.
Enter Colonel Behrani, a regal man of aristocratic bearing whose ruthless determination to maintain the standard of living his family has always been accustomed to is simultaneously honorable and pathetic. Behrani is the story's tragic hero in the classical sense. Behrani has been saving and shrewdly watching the classified ads waiting for a chance to snap up a foreclosure at a cut rate price, make modest renovations, and then resell the property at peak market value in order to acquire a six-figure nest-egg to fund his son's education and improve his family's future prospects in the US. Fortuitously, the house he buys at auction--Kathy's house--is a coastal property bearing some resemblance to his former home on the Caspian Sea, back before his family fled Iran. The house is seen in an early flashback, an eerie montage wherein a younger Behrani in full-dress service uniform observes as a row of enormous trees are severed at the trunk so that the sea will be visible from the balcony where he stands.
To elaborate the plot further would be too revealing, so I'll simply say that the lead performances in this film are sublime. I didn't think at first that I'd be able to believe the stunningly beautiful Jennifer Connelly as Kathy, a woman who redefines the term 'self-destructive,' and yet Connelly manages once again as she did in 'A Beautiful Mind' to prove that her talent and skill match or even exceed the looks. It really goes without saying that Ben Kingsley's Behrani is a stunning performance--Kingsley is a mesmerizingly charismatic screen presence and a chameleonic character actor; few actors in the history of film have been able to so convincingly disappear into their characters while projecting such a distinctive, distinguished persona. Both actors master these demanding roles such that the audience feels a broad scope of contradictory and ambiguous emotions towards their characters; neither is completely sympathetic nor despicable, and though in the Aristotelian sense Behrani is the story's tragic hero, it's resolution remains ambiguous, as does the ultimate responsibility for the tragic denouement.
The direction of the film has its occasional hitches, but many of Vadim Perelman's shots are brilliantly captivating. The Northern California coastline is exploited to maximum effect, and Perelman offers numerous shots and angles of seamless appeal--they are original and engaging without feeling forced or consciously 'film-schoolish.' It's quite a beautiful movie to look at, from the meticulous arrangement of the Behrani's luxurious furniture and decorations to the patience with which Perelman lets his actors' nuanced facial expressions and physical gestures unfold the depths of their characters.
I have some slight reservation about recommending the film simply because its tragedy is so unmerciful. And there are moments where you may find yourself exasperated with the characters and unwilling to maintain your sympathy for them. Personally, I think it's worth a look for the quality of the performances alone. It's also quite original and distinctive in style. It's devastatingly sad, however, and so should be reserved for appropriate moods.
Incredible Comment On Cultural Gap In America
5/10 First of all, anyone who says that s/he didn't "get the point of this movie" needs to go back to watching movies produced solely by Jerry Brukheimer because the point could not be more apparent to anyone of any intelligence. House of Sand and Fog is a commentary on the cultural gap between American-born citizens and immigrants from war-ridden countries such as Iran. Unfortunately that gap is shown for what it is: wider than ever.4 years ago
The character of Kathy is portrayed brilliantly by Jennifer Connelly as an emotionally unstable young woman caught up in the turmoil of losing both her husband and her family's home within eight months of each other. Kathy ignorantly fails to realize that the house her dead father has left her brother and her is in jeopardy of being put up for auction due to unpaid taxes. Kathy comprehends, too late, that the thirty years it took her father to pay off their home has been in vain when it is sold to an Iranian family shortly after auction. Her character is pinned against Ben Kingsley's Colonel Behrani when Behrani buys Kathy's auctioned house in order to return his own family to a sense of stability. The audience is conflicted by its empathy for both character's need to satisfy his and her own pride in family and the preservation of his and her heritage.
The catalyst for the two characters' conflict with each other is drawn from the supporting character of Officer Lester (Ron Eldard), a representation of the ignorance and lack of empathy some Americans feel towards people whose lives have led them to seek better ones in the United States. While Behrani's main motive is to protect his family and give it a sense of security, Lester puts his own selfish pleasures before the wellbeing of his own family. Behrani and Lester are complete opposites, Behrani clearly the nobler. It is clear why Kingsley chose to do this role: Kingsley's portrayal of an Iranian refugee is both superb and honest, not to mention Oscar-worthy. The film shows that there are greater sacrifices in this world than those materialistic in nature. Ironically many Americans might find that point hard to absorb, probably the reason why they are so quick to write off House of Sand and Fog as "one of the worst movies" they have ever seen. House of Sand and Fog is a film, not a movie. Those who give this film a thumbs down need to get a dictionary and distinguish the difference between the two terms. Andre Dubus III's novel has been done justice. Thumbs up.
A Beautiful Tragedy
10/10 In a tragedy that only the likes of Sophocles or Shakespeare could recreate, the film House of Sand and Fog proves that some dreams really can't be shared. The American dream is shattered for Colonel Behrani and Kathy Nicolo in this movie of devastating beauty. It is a film about the relentless struggle between an Iranian man and a post-alcoholic over a small house near a Californian beach. When Kathy loses her house due to county error, Behrani buys it for the sake of money and self-pride. Their worlds clash when they realize there is no perfect solution to this mistake, ending with a shockingly tragic twist. The acting put forth in this film was nothing less of amazing. Ben Kinglsey, as always, played his role as if he was really in it, really showing us his point of view and displaying his need for the house. Jennifer Connely played her role beautifully as well, showing the inward spiral she was facing and how her depression finally took her over. The story was nearly flawless with a few money and law errors. However, the tragic themes of the film ring through nonetheless. With a little less than a superior performance from Ron Eldard, the film still had wonderful acting and brilliant film technique. Based on the best-selling novel by Andre Dubus III, director Vadim Perelman does an incredible job of staying true to the novel, and using a few Russian film techniques to give a sense of emotion. This type of film truly will tug at your heart and bring tears, yet will give a sense of appreciation for the human life.4 years ago
A desperate masterpiece
10/10 This film is based on Andre Dubus III'S acclaimed novel "House of Sand and Fog". Dubus created a story of immense power about cultures and the gap between them, about human pain, about hope and ultimately about humanity and sometimes its tragic loss. Colonel Behrani (Sir Ben Kingsley) and his family, buy a house on the fictional area Pacific County, intending to ameliorate their lifestyle, as they have been banished from their home country, Iran. However, the previous owner of the house, a depressed young woman and recovering alcoholic, Kathy Lazaro (Jennifer Connelly), turns up and reclaims her property, which was taken from her because of a bureaucratic error. And when Kathy's boyfriend, Officer Lester Burdon (very effectively performed by Ron Eldard), a racist obsessed with the concept of justice decides to help her, all hell breaks loose. I cannot speak of the plot any further without spoiling it, so I will stop here. How can one tell a story and be more than a mere narrator? How can a book be adapted to film, without merely repeating what the book itself says? Not only does newcomer director Vadim Perelman answer this question, he gives us one of the best films of the past decade. Perelman doesn't waste a single detail. Everything is brought together to create an astonishing emotional impact. Like great directors such as Tarkovsky have done, Perelman approaches his every character and pierces through her/his soul. Every scene takes you deeper and deeper into the soul of the characters, without ever being slow moving or over descriptive. As for the performances, what can I say? Rarely if ever has a single performance moved me as much as Kingsley's. This gigantic actor delivers one of his best performances to date, he has immaculate control over every single aspect of his character, physically and emotionally. Connelly, one of the most talented actresses working today, is also breathtaking, creating a performance that is a quiet outburst of pain and regret. Shoreh Aghdashloo, portraying the most tragic character of the film (at least this is my view of her character), is heartbreaking. This is acting in its supreme form, I really don't think it gets better. She truly deserved an Oscar for this. Young Jonathan Ahdout is also excellent, we will definitely be seeing more of him in the future. However, I must warn you: If you are going to see this movie, prepare for an emotional breakdown. It is really one of the most devastating films of the past years and if you'd rather see a pleasant film, this isn't for you.4 years ago