House of Sand and Fog Reviews
Ben Kingsley is excellent here. It's interesting how he plays a guy that could have easily have been dubbed a dick or just a bad ol person and yet he is a good man who needs the house as much as Kathy does. Jennifer Connelly gives a great performance here too. as the film progresses we see more and more how emotionally fractured she is after losing her marriage and losing her house. Shoreh Aghadashloo also does a neat job here as the moral emotional tug at the heart for behrani. Ron eldrand's work was the only bad performance. He looked bored and non commited to this role. He barely changed facial expressions. He also was just reading the lines instead of saying the words of the character. Thank god Connelly and kingsley's experience overshadowed this terrible performance from this actor. the ending was quite suprising and that's were all performance shined the most.
If you get the chance do check out this really great motion picture.
It took roughly half an hour before I could become completely immersed in Vadim Perelman's House of Sand and Fog, and after that, I was gone. Here's a powerful, deathly serious adult drama, a rarity in a world so concerned with comedies that feature the next viral gag or meme, or the next big romance film that becomes a national sensation. The demographic usually left out of the picture is those who want a competent, R-rated adult drama, and aside from the end of the year, when American audiences tend to get bombarded with new releases, there's rarely a time when that selected demographic gets its due (even this film came out in December 2003, amidst a busy awards season).
It doesn't matter now, for House of Sand and Fog left a noticeable mark during its theatrical run and still finds itself a popular favorite on network TV. This is wonderful, because this is a uniquely great film; a film that takes a representation of something most of hold near and dear to us (our house/home), has two characters from two wildly different, troubled backgrounds pitted against the fight to claim the home, and features strong, eerie photography from one of the best cinematographers working today.
The film focuses on a recovering drug addict named Kathy Nicolo (Jennifer Connelly), who lives alone in a small home in San Francisco. After ignoring numerous eviction notices believing they are part of a misunderstanding she cleared up several months ago, she is forcibly evicted from her home, which is to be auctioned off before she can even seek any kind of legal backing. As a result, a former Iranian Army Colonel named Massoud Behrani (Ben Kingsley), who fled Iran with his wife Nadereh (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and his son Esmail (Jonathan Ahdout), purchases the home for a fraction of its actual value with intent to add additions and improvements to triple his money on the home.
This begins a bitter war between both Kathy and Behrani between what is moral and what is legally acceptable; Kathy enlists in the help of the town's Sheriff Deputy Lester Burton (Ron Eldard) to try and allows Kathy to purchase the house back, a house that has sentimental value for her and her family. Behrani, who has full legal right to do whatever he pleases with the home, doesn't see through Kathy's tearful side, and as a result, continues to go forward with his plans to renovate the home and totally transform it into a new house.
House of Sand and Fog contrasts ability and inability quite beautifully throughout the course of its runtime, a nice and freeing two-hour and three minute long window for the film to carefully assemble its characters and their situations to try and build sympathy for them. Behrani's ability to purchase and completely redesign the home that Kathy doesn't have the ability to purchase is nicely communicated by way of methodically brewing tension between the two parties; it's tension that never becomes theatrical, nor does it ever lack any kind of narrative conviction. Connelly plays a disheveled character that has repeatedly been beaten by her personal choices, with her current situation simply serving as another grim reminder of her ostensible inability to do anything right, and Kingsley plays a devilishly interesting, enigmatic man of many talents and rewards who sees no sentimentality in Kathy's situation - only opportunity.
At the center of the story is the passive home, where numerous characters do unto it what they like, but what it does to them is probably even more significant. This is a home with such promise and value that it remains the only thing our lead character Kathy stays alive for, it seems, and it's a home that could make Behrani, his wife, and his son more affluent and well-off in their current situation. Through looming exterior shots that show gray overcast skies and dense fog covering the landscapes, cinematographer Roger Deakins, arguably the best cinematographer working today, showcases the house's visceral effects by way of uncommonly elaborate closeups and candid shots of the home. No matter what screenwriters Perelman and Shawn Lawrence Otto illustrate for us by way of dialog or narrative progress, House of Sand and Fog's true meaning and significance is illustrated by the dark and beautiful balance crafted by Deakins.
The sadness of the film's story rolls in like pea-soup fog itself, and we're left as viewers just as passive in a physical sense as the home itself, which has such an uncompromising effect on its two individuals that it's almost impossible to look past. Buoyed by two strong lead performances and a masterclass of cinematography, House of Sand and Fog works to illustrate the best tendencies of an adult drama, even coming around to make us feel significantly impacted by the end.
Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Ben Kingsley, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Johnathan Ahdout, and Ron Erland. Directed by: Vadim Perelman.