House of Sand


House of Sand

Critics Consensus

Beautifully filmed with wonderful performances, this Brazilian tale deftly explores the passage of time and prolonged isolation in several decades of a mother and daughter relationship.



Reviews Counted: 70

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User Ratings: 7,814


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Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.5/5

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Movie Info

Three generations of women struggle to make lives for themselves and their families in the desert wastes of Northern Brazil in a drama from filmmaker Andrucha Waddington. In 1910, Vasco de Sá (Ruy Guerra) leads his wife, Áurea (Fernanda Torres), and her mother, Dona Maria (Fernanda Montenegro), to their new home -- a ramshackle cabin in Maranhão, a tiny village in the middle of a barren sand dune. Vasco and Áurea's new neighbors are hardly welcoming of the new arrivals, especially Massu (Seu Jorge), and when Vasco unexpectedly dies, Áurea and Dona Maria are left to fend for themselves, an especially vexing challenge as Áurea is with child. Nine years later, Áurea and Dona Maria have turned their cottage into a home, but life in Maranhão remains a constant uphill battle, and Áurea dreams of moving away with her daughter, Maria (Camilla Facundes). Áurea becomes infatuated with Luiz (Enrique Diaz), who works with a group of astronomers who have come to Maranhão to observe an eclipse, but their romance comes to a crashing halt when Dona Maria is killed. By 1942, Maria (now played by Fernanda Torres) is a promiscuous alcoholic who brings shame to Áurea (now played by Fernanda Montenegro). After the body of an Air Force pilot is found near Maranhão, a military officer is sent to investigate -- Luiz (now played by Stenio Garcia). When Luiz meets Maria, he sees the image of the woman he longed for years before, and while she doesn't have the same feelings for him, Maria realizes that Luiz represents her best hope of finally escaping the village she's come to hate. The House of Sand received its North American premiere at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival.


Fernanda Montenegro
as D. Maria/Áurea (1942-1969)/Maria (1969)
Fernanda Torres
as Áurea (1910-1919)/Maria (1942)
Ruy Guerra
as Vasco de Sa
Seu Jorge
as Massu (1910-1919)
Luiz Melodia
as Massu (1942)
Enrique Díaz
as Luiz (1919)
Stênio Garcia
as Luiz (1942)
Emiliano Queiroz
as Chico do Sal
João Acaiabe
as Massu's Father
Camilla Facundes
as Maria (1919)
Emiliano Querioz
as Chico do Sal
Jorge Mautner
as Scientist
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News & Interviews for House of Sand

Critic Reviews for House of Sand

All Critics (70) | Top Critics (28)

  • Evocative as it can be, House of Sand doesn't have enough story or incident to justify the investment in time.

    Sep 29, 2006 | Rating: 3/5
  • Cinematographer Ricardo della Rosa ... has created images of rare beauty in the midst of terrain so spectacularly strange that it sometimes seems to speak a language all its own.

    Sep 22, 2006 | Rating: B
  • It is a wondrous place, almost of another planet, and more than compensation for the effort to get there.

    Sep 22, 2006 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Visually dazzling, epic in its sweep and deeply romantic in its sensibility, The House of Sand is one of those films whose images and ideas linger long after the lights come on, having been burned into the viewer's consciousness.

    Sep 15, 2006 | Full Review…
  • A visual work of art and its simple story moves as effortlessly as the sands in a forsaken desert in northern Brazil.

    Sep 15, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It ends up like an impressionist painting without a subject, one we stare at longingly, waiting for its purpose to emerge.

    Sep 15, 2006 | Rating: 2/4

Audience Reviews for House of Sand

The House of Sand features excellent acting and good storytelling. While there may be some problems with the plot itself, it was believable that it was happening to the characters on-screen. I rate it up mainly on account of the fact that I cared about what happened and was rooting for the character played by lead actress to make it out.

Robert Brogan
Robert Brogan

Super Reviewer


a hypnotic epic starring the wonderful fernanda montenegro and her real-life daughter, the film follows 3 generations of women for 60 odd years trapped in a magnificent but forbidding desert environment of northern brazil. a meditative experience in some ways reminiscent of teshigahara's woman in the dunes

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

I was fascinated by the existence in the desert. It was such an interesting setting for me. Not to say that I didn't enjoy the film itself.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


[font=Century Gothic]In "House of Sand," it is 1910 and Aurea(Fernanda Torres) is pregnant and married to Vasco(Ruy Guerra), an older man who abuses her and drags her and her mother Maria(Fernanda Montenegro) to a remote area of Brazil where he has purchased land on the edge of the desert where they encounter a colony of escaped slaves, causing much of their party to desert. Aurea is reluctant to stay, saying that she had no idea it was going to be like this. Vasco's cruel treatment of her does not help and indeed causes Maria to contract with one of the ex-slaves to kill Vasco. When that does not work, part of an unfinished house falls on him, simultaneously killing him and possibly proving the existence of a higher power. Left alone, mother and daughter now petition for help from Massu(Seu Jorge) of the slaves' colony.[/font] [font=Century Gothic]"House of Sand" is a beautifully shot contemplation on the nature of life with a unique setting where a moment can feel like eons or a decade can go by in the blink of an eye. Also under consideration is space and how there may be no place remote enough to ever be completely free. In searching for one, a person may end up in a trap worse than anything he was fleeing.[/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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