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House of Sand and Fog (2003)

  Directed by: Vadim Perelman
Written by: Andre Dubus III, Shawn Lawrence Otto, Vadim Perelman
Starring: Shohreh Aghdashloo, Jonathan Ahdout, Jennifer Connelly, Ron Eldard, Ben Kingsley
Links: House of Sand and Fog on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Book, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy on DVD, Buy on Video
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 6.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"It's all a bit too much for me" - a review by pearly

Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) and Behrani (Ben Kingsley) are both keeping secrets. Kathy hasn't yet told any of her family or friends that her husband has left her. And when she is evicted after being too depressed to open her mail, she doesn't tell them that either. Behrani doesn't let on to his family that he has purchased their new home via a seized property auction, and that she is now trying to get her house back.

House of Sand and Fog starts off well. It begins as a story of struggle between a lonely woman and a family that is trying to get ahead in a new country after fleeing their birth country of Iran. Kathy moves from hotel to hotel and, when her money runs out, she starts sleeping in her car - all the while believing that soon she will get her house back. And Behrani and his family, wife Nadi (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and son Esmail (Jonathan Ahdout), try to settle into their new house, though it seems to have a certain chaos about it that Nadi and Esmail cannot understand at first.

But what begins as a seemingly real story becomes something bigger, and more over-the-top. Lester (Ron Eldard), the cop that evicted Kathy, becomes her lover and we're introduced to his backstory. And things get weirder: it's almost like The Castle (1997) meets Pulp Fiction (1994) (not quite, but good enough). I don't know about anyone else, but I don't think that it was necessary for House of Sand and Fog to go down the path that it did. I would have been happier with some other resolution... I'm not sure what exactly, but something a little more everyday (getting rid of the Lester character might be a good start). Not every film has to involve things that you can't imagine happening to yourself in a million years, you know.

Kingsley is really great in his leading role: he's wonderful with accents, huh? Connelly plays off him well - the scenes that they're in together (though few) are some of the best in the film. The tender scenes with Connelly and Aghdashloo are also nice - she is wonderful in her supporting role. But, yeah, I didn't expect anything major from this, and my expectations were correct.

pearly gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 1 Mar 2004

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Reader comments

  1. My girlfriend and I both read the book while in Spain and enjoyed it. The book contains a lot more that emphasises why Behrani cannot give up the house, and the effort he goes to maintaining his family's lifestyle without their knowledge. It's shown, somewhat, in the film, but there's no real backstory of them fleeing Iran, etc.

    The movie was entertaining enough (Connelly was best), but I wondered how clear some of these things would be to anyone who hadn't read the book.

    Rating given: 7

    A comment from Isaac ( on Wed 03 Mar 2004 12:39 #

  2. You're right - not having read the book, I think these things were only hinted at, but not really spelled out.

    Of course, this is usually the way in a film adaptation of a novel, as there is never enough time. I can imagine it being more powerful and all fitting more into place with appropriate background to the story.

    A comment from nofreelist's own pearly on Wed 03 Mar 2004 12:48 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 7.00 (1 rating)

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