House of Sand and Fog (2003)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Powerful and thought provoking film.

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Movie Info

Massoud Amir Behrani is living a lie to fulfill a dream. Once a member of the Shah of Iran's elite inner circle, he has brought his family to America to build a new life. Despite a pretense of continued affluence, he is barely making ends meet until he sees his opportunity in the auction of a house being sold for back taxes. It is a terrible mistake. Through a bureaucratic snafu, the house had been improperly seized from its rightful owner, Kathy Lazaro, a self-destructive alcoholic. The loss of her home tears away Kathy's last hope of a stable life--a life that had been nearly destroyed by addiction--and Kathy decides to fight to recover her home at any cost. Her struggle is joined by deputy sheriff Lester Burdon, who tries to take the law into his own hands to help Kathy. Ultimately the tale, itself, explores what happens when the American Dream goes terribly awry.
Rating:
R (for some violence/disturbing images, language and a scene of sexuality)
Genre:
Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 limited
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:

Cast

Ben Kingsley
as Behrani
Ron Eldard
as Lester
Frances Fisher
as Connie Walsh
Kim Dickens
as Carol
Navi Rawat
as Soraya
Carlos Gomez
as Lt. Alvarez
Kia Jam
as Ali
Samira Damavandi
as Little Soraya
Matthew Simonian
as Little Esmail
Al Faris
as Wedding Guest
Mark Chaet
as Wedding Guest
Al Rodrigo
as Torez
Aki Aleong
as Tran
Joyce Kurtz
as Kathy's Mom
Scott N. Stevens
as County Official
Ken Kerman
as Locksmith
Scott Kinworthy
as Deputy Trainee
Tom Benick
as Hotel Security
Samuel Hart
as Elevator Man
Jackie Ahdout
as Elevator Woman
Spencer Garrett
as Auctioneer
Isabelle James
as Teenage Girl
Bonita Friedericy
as Motel Manager
David Carrera
as Carpenter
Michael Papajohn
as Carpenter
Joe Howard
as Appraiser
Aaron Frazier
as Courier
Dan Brinkle
as Husband/Buyer
Yan Lin
as Wife/Buyer
Ashley Edner
as Bethany
Ray Abruzzo
as Frank
Tom Reynolds
as Gas Station Worker
Jose Luis Lopez Vasquez
as Arresting Officer
Matt Waite
as Arresting Officer
Frank Gallego
as Prison Guard
Karl Makinen
as Officer at End
Markus Baldwin
as Young Husband
Elton Ahi
as Wedding Singer
Shani Rigsbee
as Wedding Singer
Andy Madadian
as Wedding Singer
Namrata Gujral-Cooper
as Wedding Guest
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for House of Sand and Fog

All Critics (177) | Top Critics (39)

The vivid clarity of the images, the compressed fury of the tale, are impossible to get out of your head.

Full Review… | October 31, 2007
Newsweek
Top Critic

Perelman and his long-suffering stars make a spectacle of pain, but fail to register any lighter notes, while the denouement seems calculated to wring out every last tear.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

If "House of Sand and Fog" ultimately feels like a failed exercise, it has less to do with Perelman's limitations than with a book that would have been better served by staying on the page.

Full Review… | September 25, 2005
Washington Post
Top Critic

Connelly, who has often mistaken posing for acting, digs deep here; Aghdashloo ... gives us a portrait of a woman who is both dutiful to her husband and ravaged by his iron will. Kingsley is most impressive of all.

August 7, 2004
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

You feel you not only know these people but where they come from.

February 4, 2004
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

If this movie isn't quite the contempo-Greek tragedy it wants to be, it's still a powerful, almost unforgettable meditation on fate, cultural collision and the morality of renovating a house that isn't really yours.

Full Review… | December 27, 2003
Salon.com
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for House of Sand and Fog

"I have taken us so far off our course, but now it is time to return. It is time for us to go home to our destiny." There are no good or bad characters in House of Sand and Fog. Just a lot of flawed individuals who seem to unintentionally make matters worse at every turn. This isn't a feel-good movie, to say the least. The story is about a conflict over a house that is very important to several different people. The woman that it originally belongs to is wrongfully evicted from it, and it ends up being sold to an exiled Iranian man who needs the house as part of a plan to provide for his family. An unimaginable amount of conflict and tragedy ends up resulting from this unfortunate situation. I'm an avowed fan of these kinds of dour dramas. House of Sand and Fog has all the emotional power of a movie like Revolutionary Road or Little Children, without the heavy-handed preachiness of Crash. This movie isn't trying to teach you anything or tug on your heartstrings, it's just a well-told story about tragedy. Combine that with solid writing, a good score, and a great cast (lead by Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley), and you have a movie that is a fine example of the drama genre.

Lewis C.
Lewis C.

Super Reviewer

½

An extremely powerful film. Kingsley gives a performance that should be up with the bests of all-time, where Connelly, strikingly beautiful, gives an Oscar-worth one as well. A deep story that is rich in characterization as well as with things such as material possessions and how much we place value in them. A heck of a depressing story with people who are extremely troubled and have very few redeeming qualities, but in the end it really makes you take a strong look on how much you place value on items, such as a simple house, and the effects these possessions can have on your life.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

½

Solemn and well-directed drama, about a family who gets in bitter conflict with the previous owner of their newly bought house. The first half is pretty slow, but it builds up tension well for what happens in the second, where things really shift into high gear. One thing I really appreciated about the film, was the fact that it was very hard to predict the final outcome of the plot. That, along with its superb acting and refined script, makes it into an above-average drama, and one I'd gladly recommend. Be aware though that it's very tragic in tone. So if you're looking for something cheerful with a happy end, you may want to look elsewhere.

Mike S
Mike S

Super Reviewer

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