The House of the Spirits

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

30%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 37

72%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,358
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Movie Info

Bille August directed this film version of the Isabel Allende novel, featuring a cast that includes Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, and Glenn Close. The story is a sweeping and brooding melodrama, spanning generations and filled with violence, revenge, and telekinesis. The tale begins in South America in 1926, when a young man, Esteban (Jeremy Irons), falls in love with the daughter of a rich man, Rosa Del Valle (Teri Polo). He vows to become rich enough to make her his wife and spends months of toil in the gold fields to earn enough money to do just that. Before the two marry, however, Rosa is killed by poison meant for her father. After the tragedy, Esteban moves to Trés Marias, an abandoned ranch, and spends 20 years of his life turning the ranch into a thriving estate, exploiting the labor of the poor who live off the land. When he returns to the city, he comes across Rosa's younger sister Clara (Meryl Streep), now a woman with telekinetic abilities. Clara took a vow of silence years before, but upon the arrival of Esteban, she speaks for the first time in years -- "You have come to propose marriage to me," she says. Esteban and Clara marry, and Esteban takes her back to the ranch, where they have a daughter, Blanca (Winona Ryder). Their daughter falls in love with the son of one of Esteban's foremen, a hot-headed revolutionary named Pedro (Antonio Banderas). Now, the country is in the throes of revolution. Esteban banishes his sister Ferula (Glenn Close) from the ranch, beats his wife, and rapes a peasant woman. The product of Esteban's rape (Joaquin Martinez) grows into an angry young man who convinces Esteban to send him away to military school. When there is a military coup, the illegitimate son returns to Trés Marias with revenge and torture on his mind.

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Critic Reviews for The House of the Spirits

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (16)

  • The greatest actors in the world can't overcome a script that boils everything down to the Esperanto of cliche.

    Feb 13, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Newsweek
    Top Critic
  • The thing works in its goofy way, mainly because Bille August is a man of apparently dauntless conviction. He has written and directed every scene with serene authority.

    May 20, 2013 | Full Review…
  • The flaws aren't fatal. The beauty and brilliance that might have been, don't preclude the quality and bravery that exist on the screen.

    May 20, 2013 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The House of the Spirits is like Gone With the Wind with the fun and excitement replaced by lofty. All that's left is the wind.

    May 20, 2013 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • How can an accomplished director take a great novel, the best actors working and the finest technicians available and make a film so... bland? It's a puzzlement.

    May 20, 2013 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • Inert from its opening moments to its too-long-delayed close, this lackluster production is an example of international filmmaking at its least attractive, and a misstep in the careers of pretty much everyone involved.

    May 20, 2013 | Rating: 1.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The House of the Spirits

  • Apr 10, 2011
    Shit film, good book.
    Lesley N Super Reviewer
  • Jan 03, 2011
    Quite the show of family melodrama... Miles away from the original impact of the book (which was sold as hot bread after the initial release of the film), The House of the Spirits is, truth to be told, an underrated and recently forgotten epic. You'll never see Meryl and Glenn together once more with the delightful charm of the sweet Conchita, and you'll end up missing those days. Resembling more an 80s flick than a movie from the 90s, and despite its pretentious cast, Bille's adaptation provides some solid goods amidst a small ocean of missed marks, from the language to its flat representation of its historical context and its continuous chronological jumps. I mean, I would't have minded a 3-hour epic... 73/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Apr 27, 2008
    Might have to watch it again.
    The M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 10, 2007
    Wow. I get the feeling the book was not nearly as crappy as this.
    Sunil J Super Reviewer

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