Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Movie Review: "House of Sand and Fog" (2003)

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Movie"House of Sand and Fog"
Director: Vadim Perelman
Year: 2003
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes

A woman named Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) is abandoned by her husband and evicted from her home due to a clerical tax error. Before the error is resolved, her home is purchased at auction by a former Colonel in the Iranian military named Behrani (Ben Kingsley), who was exiled from his home country when the Ayatollah took power. This error causes a feud between Kathy and the new owners, and matters only get worse when a local deputy sheriff named Lester (Ron Eldard), who has taken a liking to Kathy, gets involved in the conflict.

Prepare to be utterly depressed.

"House of Sand and Fog" is a modern day tragedy about two people who get in a disagreement over a home. Everything that takes place in this film stems from a clerical error by a local tax office. Two people who are both at a crossroads in their lives, one taking steps to improve it and the other on their way to rock bottom, must try and find a solution that will be beneficial to both of them. Unfortunately, life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. Jennifer Connelly plays Kathy, a woman going through a really difficult time in her life. Her husband has left her, and she's obviously in a deep depression. Ben Kingsley plays Colonel Behrani, an Iranian national living in the United States and is now struggling to make a living. When Kathy has her house auctioned off because of this error at the tax office, Behrani takes the opportunity to improve his family's situation and invests his life savings into buying the house. Seemingly able to start a new life, Behrani is unaware of what Kathy will do to get her home back.

This is a movie all about how the misunderstandings of people and cultures can be escalated to terrible, unthinkable heights. "House of Sand and Fog" also shows how certain choices people make can send them down an unforeseen path that will permanently alter their lives forever. This becomes quite apparent for deputy Lester, played by Ron Eldard, when he takes a personal interest in Kathy and her situation. After the two begin a relationship, Lester finds himself between a rock and a hard place.

The acting in this movie is absolutely fabulous. It is one of the most fantastic displays of ensemble acting of the decade. Ben Kingsley is one of the finest actors to ever grace the silver screen. Every movie he stars in, he only gets better. This might not be his career-defining role, but it's up there with one of his best. Both Kingsley and Shohreh Aghdashloo, who plays Behrani's wife Nadi, earned Oscar nominations for their performances, and we are adamant in our belief that they were both snubbed. They each portray very different characters with very different emotions, but both do so with such a resounding conviction that in the end, we don't see Kingsley and Aghdashloo playing roles, but merely them as only their characters. Just superb, convincing, powerful acting. Jennifer Connelly is also great as Kathy, a woman who has hit rock bottom in her life and is willing to go to any length necessary to take back what's hers. Together, these fine actors make up a drama in the truest sense of the word. The emotions run strong and deep, forcing audiences to endure the pain each of our characters has to endure. Some moments are so completely gut-wrenching, they'll make you feel as if your heart has been ripped from your chest or as if the air has been siphoned from your lungs. The final scenes are some of the hardest you may ever have to watch, and viewing them is like being punched in the gut. This film may leave you with no tears left in your eyes, and it's meant to be this way. Even the most hardened people might find themselves weeping at the end of "House of Sand and Fog" as grim turns to grimmer and people are torn apart.

As good as this thought-provoking film is, it's definitely not one we'll revisit often. This was our second time watching it, and we're probably good for at least another decade. A must-see for fans of gripping dramas, Ben Kingsley, or fine acting.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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