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.



Total Count: 70


Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,813
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House of Sand Photos

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

  • Oct 02, 2015
    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 B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 18, 2013
    A beautiful work to look at, lost amidst the cinematic desert, which is a combination between Teshigahara and Tarkovsky, with less cinematic and metaphysical impact but with an hypnotic world that has the power to capture your body and make you stay permanently. Open you eyes and be cautious, because generations pass in the blink of an eye and the hearts of these "women in the dunes" are reflected by the same actresses with alternating roles. It deserves much more praise. 75/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • May 19, 2011
    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 D Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2010
    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 B Super Reviewer

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