Friday, February 04, 2005

House of Sand and Fog

Ms. Aghdashloo
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
I am still breathing way down in my soul 12 hours after seeing "House of Sand and Fog" on DVD. Based on the book by Andre Dubus III and directed by Vadim Perelman, it is the best Greek tragedy I've seen in a long time, and I'm terribly devoted to the tragic form. Jennifer Connelly plays a sniveling, alcoholic beauty who screws up her life by failing to read her mail and thus losing her house(take note, ya'll.. you can NOT blow off your mail!), and gets kind of rescued (in a really psycho-needy way) by a sexy deputy sheriff with an overdeveloped sense of he-man protectiveness (tho' not for his own wife and children, the bastid).

You want to see this film for two reasons, though, and their names are Ben Kingsley and Shohreh Aghdashloo. They are Lord and Lady Tragedy, they are exquisitely beautiful and exquisitely rendered according to gender stereotypes that are so true they make you weep, and played with honesty and love that will make you feel as though they have scooped your heart out through your mouth and dropped it onto the floor.

I asked a Persian friend if the details of Iranian immigrant culture were fairly depicted, and she thought so. I was glad. I didn't see this story as a metaphor of Middle-East-Meets-West,though, as some critics have written. I saw it as a tragedy, pure and simple, where the gods look down and throw human beings together according to their whimsy and our inestimable loss and suffering. The tide comes in, the fog rolls out, someone tries to die and gets saved by someone else's goodness, someone else dies and doesn't get saved by anyone's goodness. And so it goes. You will never forget the deep pools of Shohreh Aghdashloo's eyes, which seem to reflect every proud mama and faithful wife's suffering from the beginning of time.
If you rent the DVD, make sure to leave time for the commentary track, because if you care about acting at all you will want to hear Sir Ben Kingsley's take on his magnificent performance.


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