House Of Sand And Fog

Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Ben Kingsley, Ron Eldard, Frances Fisher, Kim Dickens
Director: Vadim Perelman

If you think you’ve had a bad day and a couple of hours at the cinema will straighten you out, then this is the movie to see. I doubt anyone leaving the cinema after seeing this traumatic story play out will think they have it half as bad as when they went in. However, if you approach this film feeling depressed then I would suggest you avoid it as it may only darken the mood you entered with.

The main issue that the director is trying to put across in this film is that being materialistic is part of human nature, but greed, on the other hand, is his greatest Achilles heel. It is a scenario that can be traced back to the bible. In this case it is a house not an apple in a beautiful garden that is the focal point of this tragedy.

Massoud Amir Behrani (forget his name at your peril), an Iranian immigrant and former general who now digs roads, has spent most of his savings on his daughter’s marriage and trying to keep his family in the quality of life they became accustomed to in their homeland, something he cannot now afford to do without also working at a gas station at night. He dreams of the ocean and his former opulence and when he finds that a house that is similar to the one he had in Iran is being auctioned at cut-price due to repossession he spends his remaining funds on acquiring it, unwittingly putting himself and his family in the middle of a legal tussle with the house’s former owner (the gorgeous and always excellent Connelly). What begins as a legal struggle turns into a very personal confrontation, with tragic results for all concerned.

The superb ensemble acting is what makes this film so powerful. All of the leads are magnificent, backed up by strong support and moody images all adding potency to the tragedy that unfolds before our eyes. The scene of the Kingsley characters’ moment of torment will haunt the viewer for a long time after they have left the theatre.

Although there are some strange plot flaws (don’t they have ambulances in this part of America?) and an ending which doesn’t tie up (you have become so involved with these characters, you want to see how everything turns out) they don’t detract too much from this very powerful piece of cinema.

Dr Kuma’s verdict: A house of sand will wash away shortly after those who created it have left the scene, but this film will stay long in the memory.

4 out of 6 stars

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