House of Sand and Fog

"Good"

House of Sand and Fog Review


Real estate brokers would call Vadim Perelman's solemn House of Sand and Fog a fixer-upper. At first glance, the handsome House is an easy sell. It's gorgeously shot and well acted. Skilled composer James Horner even chimes in with an aptly somber score of deliberate piano key strokes and nothing more. A closer look reveals cracks in the foundation, though, meaning House wouldn't pass a thorough homeowner's inspection, as it isn't really built to cinematic code.

Based on the best-selling novel by Andre Dubus III, House constructs a legal and ethical battle between two individuals at conflicting crossroads. How much you buy into it will depend on which of the film's two antagonists you side with. Are you a compassionate bleeding heart willing to forgive even the most irresponsible and bottomed-out loser? Or are you a strict rule-abider who swears by the letter of the law and is hesitant to play the sympathy card?

The concrete holding House up is Ben Kingsley. He plays Massoud Amir Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian army who moved his wife (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and son to America but has endured hardships. Kingsley's commendable skills are matched by co-star Jennifer Connelly, an actress who appears most comfortable in traumatic, demoralizing roles. She plays Kathy, a reformed alcoholic who's stuck in a downward spiral. She's so busy wallowing in her self-inflicted depression that she fails to pay approximately $500 in taxes on her home. As a result, the house is seized, auctioned, and sold to Behrani for a discounted price.

Without recognizing it, these two characters share a struggle to maintain their fabricated lifestyles, and their independent plans are tied to the house. Behrani views it as a chance to regain a financial foothold, while Kathy sees it as her last hold on stability. If nothing else, Perelman stresses the importance of the property to each party.

Through no fault of Connelly's, there's just nothing to like about Kathy, so our loyalty is hopelessly one-sided in favor of the Behranis. Kathy is dependent, whiny, and responsible for more than a few bad decisions. A spoiled child, she swallows pills and nibbles a handgun when she doesn't get her way. When Kathy and her ignorant cop boyfriend Lester (Ron Eldard) strong-arm the Behrani family despite the fact that they don't have a legal or moral leg to stand on, they look stupid - and make most Americans look like immigrant-hating bigots.

Is House anti-American? Possibly. Perelman slips in enough jabs at Kathy and Lester to clarify which side he favors. The mismatched pair mooch off friends, abuse the power of his authority position, and scream like brats when opposed. Meanwhile, Behrani's hard-working son, Esmail (Jonathan Ahdout), is offering to take up a second paper route if it means his family will be able to keep the house. Boy, the Americans sure look justified and unselfish, don't they? House makes its biggest mistake in thinking it occupies an ambiguous moral gray area, when in reality it was half right and half wrong from the beginning.

Gotta keep the feet clean.



House of Sand and Fog

Facts and Figures

Run time: 126 mins

In Theaters: Friday 9th January 2004

Box Office USA: $12.9M

Box Office Worldwide: $16.9M

Budget: $16.5M

Distributed by: DreamWorks SKG

Production compaines: DreamWorks SKG

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 132 Rotten: 45

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Kathy, as Behrani, as Lester, as Connie Walsh, as Carol Burdon, as Nadi, as Esmail, as Soraya, as Ali

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.