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Impending inevitable disaster
House Of Sand And Fog (DVD)
Author Name: DavidRx
House Of Sand And Fog (DVD)
Advantages: Jennifer Connelly, Ben Kingsley
Disadvantages: Not exactly a happy film
I had no idea what to expect when I started watching this film (I'll confess right now I only picked it up 'cause I think Jennifer Connelly rules as an actor. OK, she's nice to look at too). Better yet, by half way through the film I still had no idea of how it would end. I love films like that.
The basic plot is a woman (Connelly) losing her house because she owes taxes but doesn't bother reading the mail informing her of this.
The house is then purchased by Ben Kingsley's character, a man who recognises a bargin when he sees it.
The woman cannot accept she has lost the house and attempts to get it back.
Both are also living a lie, presenting a false face to the world while trying to deal with the reality of their situations.
The stage is then set for what is to follow.
The weather features prominently as a mood metaphor/barometer in the film. In the first half of the film, the house is shown bathed in sunshine. Later it is always dark and wreathed in fog.
The two main protagonists are both (at least in their own minds) right in their claim to the house and for the first half of the film we can identify with both of them. It is only in the second half, when the action takes a darker tone and the sense of impending inevitable disaster starts to appear, that the viewer's loyalty become lopsided (often only to switch back to the other character depending on what is happening to them).
Due to this skilful manipulation of emotions of the director, you still don't know who things are going to turn out (really, really) bad for (or how).
The end of the movie is heavy. Connelly and Kingsley's characters' unyielding righteousness and pride leads to misunderstood motivations escalating an increasingly ugly situation. Distrust of different cultures' values (Kingsley's movie family are Iranian and Moslem) is also explored (via a lunkhead cop in love with and trying to impress Tilley's character).
This is one of those increasingly rare occasions when a mainstream Hollywood movie goes out on a limb and delivers something special. Even better, they don't feel the need to wrap things up neatly with a contrived happy ending. In the last third of the film, nothing is telegraphed as to what will happen next making the sequence of events even sadder for their inevitable logic.
Yeah, it's depressing, emotionally shattering and several times you just want to slap (or worse) some characters faces for being such idiots.
The acting from all supporting parties concerned is fantastic (except for the guy who plays the cop. There's nothing wrong with his performance but he just comes across as emotionally out of his depth when performing with actors of such gravitas as the two leads).
I haven't read the book on which this is based so have no idea how faithful the adaptation is. This is about as un-uplifting as filmmaking gets but has important things to say about responsibility, pride and ethics. Highly recommended.
Summary: How not to deal with reality