February 14, 2005

House of Sand and Fog

Brilliant. Beautiful. Sucked.

This movie is easily my most disappointing viewing experience in a long while. The experience was perhaps made doubly disappointing by the fact that it is brilliantly acted, meticulously directed, and beautifully shot. The story however, really kinda sucked.

Watching House of Sand and Fog reminded me that I am a story guy first. You can have all the excellent production and acting in the world, but if you put that into a sucky story, it's largely wasted. This film is not entirely wasted; some would probably still call it a great film, even though the story had some major problems. I would have no problem giving Ben Kingsley an Oscar for his performance as Col. Bahrani. In fact I think he was far better than Sean Penn in Mystic River who won that year. Jennifer Connelly's performance isn't that good, but she was mainly there for eye appeal I think.

I would like to read the novel this was based on to see just how much the story got hollywoodized. (I see the film was nominated for a number of "indie" awards. I don't care. It was hollywoodized.) Jennifer's visuals show the hollywoodization. How funny that within this very grownup and mature story, we periodically get a nice long look at her legs, or a titillating little interlude of her waking up nude and donning a t-shirt just in the shadow where you can only see her silhouette, or removing her shirt to take a sink-bath in a roadside bathroom.

The story starts off great. We have an excellent premise here. I would expect to find out that it is based on some kind of factual occurrence. Kathy (Connelly) is a screw off homeowner who inherited her house. She doesn't open the mail she gets from the county and one day finds out she is being kicked out because she didn't pay taxes that she was billed. The county sells the house. Col. Bahrani sees the ad and makes out like a bandit, buying the place for a quarter its worth.

Kathy screwed off but the county screwed up. She didn't owe the taxes she was billed. Before the error is caught Bahrani has moved into his new house. And, of course, intense drama ensues. Kathy winds up making out with one of the sheriff's deputies sent to evict her. He is what really messes up the story. I wonder if his character is even in the original novel. He ultimately does some things, several things, that make very little if any sense. Although in fairness, good-lookin' women can make men do non-sensical things.

I wonder if I shouldn't just put a big SPOILER ALERT banner at the top of this blog so I can go ahead and discuss in detail what happens in a movie. I really think most people who find my blog entries have already seen the film they are searching on. In this particular case I could really go off about how things transpire and how borderline stupid the story is in the end, no matter how "dramatic."

Ah well, tis only my opinion. If you haven't seen this, I don't think I would discourage you. I would be interested to hear someone defend the plot of House of Sand and Fog.

Posted by Wayne at February 14, 2005 10:59 PM

Well I saw House of Sand and Fog multiple times and I like it, although it is slow moving. I think everyone was marvelous at acting especially Jennifer Connelly. The parts that were played were difficult because each person had a wide range of strong emotion to portray. Im sure Jennifer Connelly's sex appeal helped, but she was the perfect actress for this movie. whatevs

Posted by: TECHNO at April 30, 2005 12:23 AM
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