"House of Sand and Fog" is a stunning film. Based on the best-selling novel, an Oprah Book Club selection, written by Andre Dubus III. It was adapted for the screen by Vadim Perelman and Shawn Lawrence. This film marks the feature film directorial debut of Vadim Perelman.
Perelman beautifully directs the "House of Sand and Fog" as a visual poem. Turn off the sound and you would still be enraptured by the poetic images sweeping and crescendoing across the screen. One image blazing in my mind is the action brought to a full stop with striking of a match to light a cigarette.
The Behrani family (left to right BEN KINGSLEY, JONATHAN AHDOUT, SHOHREH AGHDASHLOO) are held hostage in their own home as the fight for ownership of their house leads comes to a terrible climax. Photo: Bruce Birmelin
Every performance is rich, full and precise. Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley (Massoud Amir Behrani) does not disappoint. His performance is multi layered, elegant, articulate, switching from vulnerable to harsh and back again. Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly (Kathy Nicolo) intuitively balances her characters hope and desperation. Ron Eldard is menacing as Deputy Sheriff Lester Burdon. Shohreh Aghdashloo, a major Iranian film star, plays Nadi Behrani. Aghdashloo's performance is richly understated, subtle and compellingly full. Newcomer Jonathan Ahdout (Esmail Behrani) is surprisingly fresh, honest, and insightful.
Kathy Nicolo (JENNIFER CONNELLY, left) pays a visit to Nadi Behrani (SHOHREH AGHDASHLOO) to ask for her help in reclaiming ownership of the house that was mistakenly sold to the Behrani family for back taxes Kathy had never really owed. Photo: Bruce Birmelin
A gripping exploration of the American Dream gone awry, "House of Sand and Fog" is the story of two people driven to desperate measures to claim ownership of a house. It is only a small bungalow in Northern California, but to Kathy Nicolo (Jennifer Connelly), it is the last vestige of hope for reclaiming a life that was nearly lost to addiction. When a bureaucratic error forces her eviction, Kathy is left homelesshelpless to stop the house from being sold at auction for a fraction of its worth.
The new owner, Massoud Amir Behrani (Ben Kingsley), sees the house as the fulfillment of the American Dream he has been pursuing since he fled Iran with his family years earlier. A former Colonel in the Iranian Air Force, Behrani has been reduced to working menial jobs to maintain a pretense of affluence. Now he pours the last of his life savings into the purchase of the house that will, at last, bring back the prosperity his family once knew.
Deputy Sheriff Lester Burdon (RON ELDARD, center) uses intimidation and thinly veiled threats of deportation to convince Massoud Amir Behrani (BEN KINGSLEY, left) to relinquish ownership of his new home, as Behrani's son Esmail (JONATHAN AHDOUT) looks on in fear.
As Kathy and Behrani's fight for the house escalates, Kathy finds an unlikely ally in the officer sent to evict her, Deputy Sheriff Lester Burdon (Ron Eldard), who becomes dangerously devoted to her cause. Caught in the maelstrom are Behrani's wife, Nadi (Shohreh Aghdashloo), and son, Esmail (Jonathan Ahdout).
What begins as a conflict over a small, rundown bungalow spirals into a clash of cultures that propels everyone involved towards an inescapable, and ultimately heartbreaking, climax. "House of Sand and Fog" exposes the unsettling truth that it is sometimes our hopes and not our hatreds that divide us.
ANDRE DUBUS III is the author of the book House of Sand and Fog, upon which DreamWorks Pictures' movie of the same name is based. Photo: Bruce Birmelin
"House of Sand and Fog" is a telling look into the American dream, addiction, love, prejudice, hope and despair. I definitely recommend it.
"House of Sand and Fog" is presented by DreamWorks Pictures, in association with Cobalt Media Group.
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