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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

House Of Sand And Fog

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Judy Thorburn

House Of Sand And Fog

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

KINGSLEY CLEARLY OSCAR BOUND IN "HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG"

Everyone knows that there is a distinct difference between a house and a home. A house is just a structure. But, a home is about the people who live there. How we view our home and what it means to us is another thing. In the United States, the owning of a home is part of the American dream, although some people who have it handed to them, come to take it for granted. Like so many things, it is only after you lose it that you appreciate what you had. A dream can very well turn into a nightmare when a mistake cannot be fixed.

House of Sand and Fog is about the struggle for ownership of a house and the escalating events that lead to tragedy.

Kathy Nicolo (Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind) is a recovering addict living alone in a San Francisco Bay cottage that her father had left her. She works as a housekeeper to make ends meet, but ignores the mail that has piled up on her doorstep since her husband left her 8 months prior. So, it comes as a surprise when one morning the doorbell rings with an eviction notice from the county for non-payment of $500 in back taxes. Kathy goes to see attorney, Connie Walsh (Frances Fisher) to try and keep her house, but it is too late since her home was already auctioned off, as a result of some bureaucratic blunder.

Iranian immigrant, and former Air Force Colonel for the Shah of Iran, Massoud Amir Behrani (Ben Kingsley, "Sexy Beast"), who has been working two jobs, as a day laborer and evening cashier at a grocery store to pay for the high cost of his rented apartment, bought the house as an investment in order to build up financial security for his family, wife Nadi (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and son Esmail (Johnathan Ahdout) that he had, when he lived near the Caspian Sea. He sees a future to be made by fixing the house, adding a roof deck, and reselling it for four times his initial cost. A proud and dignified man forced into exile when the Shah was deposed, Behrani is a man who wants only to provide the lifestyle his wife was formerly accustomed to, and secure a college education for his son. At first happy to have bought the cottage at such a deal, he feels nothing about what a loss it has meant to Kathy. Behrani sees that he had made a legal purchase, fair and square. But to Kathy, losing her house was like the end of the world, forcing her to live in her car and sink back into self-destructive behavior. Bitter and angry, she confronts Behrani at the house, desperate to make him return what she sees as rightfully hers. He turns her away, but when she tries to kill herself at the house, Behrani becomes torn by his investment decision and sympathy for the former owner. To add fuel to the fire, unhappily married Deputy Sheriff, Lester Burdon (Ron Eldard, "Black Hawk Down"), becomes Kathy’s lover, and takes it upon himself to try and force Behrani, who he sees as a foreigner and thief, to give back the house at the price he paid for it. It is Lester’s presence and intervention that gets out of control resulting in a tearful conclusion.

What a remarkable film debut from director Vadim Perelman, who co wrote the screenplay with Shawn Otto. Adapted from Andre Dubus’ novel of the same name, Perelman draws on the dark and brooding atmosphere of the mists and fog surrounding the seaside cottage, to evoke the loss of clarity among the characters. Although this is a very sad story that deals with prejudice, misunderstanding, and culture clash, it also makes a powerful statement about responsibility and ethics. This is as challenging endeavor that never takes sides, allowing the audience to be slowly drawn into the emotional dilemma of each of the parties involved. We feel their angst as the tension builds in this gripping character driven study.

Beautiful Jennifer Connelly captures the soul of a broken spirit who can’t seem to face the fact that her predicament is somehow attributed to her lack of responsibility and carelessness. Both she and Lester destroyed what was essentially the American dream for each of them. Lester had a good job and a beautiful family, and Kathy had a house given to her by a father who worked thirty years to pay for it. Neither character evokes much sympathy for what they essentially screwed up. On the other hand, a hard working immigrant sees his investment as a means to fulfill the American dream. Ben Kingsley is superb as Behrani, displaying such a wide range of emotions of his complex character, which is strong, proud, and yet compassionate, with a deep connection to his religious convictions. If there is one reason alone to see this film it is because of him. It is without a doubt the best male performance of the year. If he doesn’t walk away with an Oscar come February, I give up!

House of Sand and Fog is an emotionally charged, engrossing drama that is also disturbing, and at times, not easy to watch for its violence and emotionally wrenching scenes. But, the forceful acting builds such a worthy foundation, that I clearly recommend it.