A Quiet Passion

"Very Good"

A Quiet Passion Review


British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the surfaces of his stories and characters. So it's especially intriguing to see him take on a biopic about the enigmatic American poet Emily Dickinson. Like her writing, the film has a moody, dry exterior that conceals a fiendishly sharp wit. It's also an unusually smart film, combining emotional resonance with brainy conversation, even as it moves at a glacial pace.

It's set in 19th century Massachusetts, where Emily (young Emma Bell, then Cynthia Nixon) grows up in a fiercely religious household. But then, everyone in this community is devout to the point of distraction, and no one knows what to do about Emily's unusually outspoken thoughts. The way she speaks about her faith horrifies her parents (Keith Carradine and Joanna Bacon), even though they raised Emily and her siblings Vinnie and Austin (Jennifer Ehle and Duncan Duff) to think for themselves. As Emily begins publishing her poems anonymously, she also challenges the role of women in this society, where they're expected to be little more than decoration. So it's no wonder that the plain-speaking new arrival Vryling (Catherine Bailey) catches her attention.

The film covers the final decades in Emily's life, punctuating scenes with her evocative, often disturbing poetry. Davies keeps the period details crisp and unfussy, using period photographs to great effect, such as in the striking sequence that traces the American Civil War. That said, the Dickinson family's life seems like little more than a sequence of nasty diseases and personal conflicts, which isn't easy to stick with. Thankfully, Nixon brings an alertness to Emily that catches the imagination, and her connection with Ehle's Vinnie is lively and engaging. These two women are inquisitive and sharp, in stark contrast to the gloomy people around them.

All of the actors make the most of the dialogue, which is wordy and delicate, and requires paying very close attention. But when what is being said is this clever, it's worth the effort. And when the characters are this complex and revelatory, the film can't help but touch a nerve. Davies depicts Emily as a woman who rejects overt piety and simplistic faith for something much deeper and far more relevant. So she has a lot to say to a present-day culture of ingrained conformity, urging us to think for ourselves and live life on our terms. It may seem dour and stuffy, but this film is a breath of fresh air.

Watch the trailer for A Quiet Passion:



A Quiet Passion

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 125 mins

In Theaters: Friday 7th April 2017

Distributed by: Hurricane Films

Production compaines: Indomitable Entertainment, Potemkino, Hurricane Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Roy Boulter, Sol Papadopoulos

Starring: as Emily Dickinson, as Vinnie Dickinson, Duncan Duff as Austin Dickinson, as Edward Dickinson, as Susan Gilbert, Joanna Bacon as Emily Norcross, as Young Emily Dickinson, Benjamin Wainwright as Young Austin Dickinson, as Vryling Buffam, as Aunt Elizabeth, Noémie Schellens as Mabel Loomis Todd, Rose Williams as Young Vinnie Dickinson, Miles Richardson as Pastor, Eric Loren as Reverend Wadsworth, Stefan Menaul as Mr. Emmons, Maurice Cassiers as Photographer, Sara Vertongen as Miss Lyon, Barney Glover as Dancing Soldier, Simone Milsdochter as Mrs. Wadsworth, Yasmin Dewilde as Maggie Maher, Marieke Bresseleers as Jenny Lind, Verona Verbakel as Margaret Kelley, Turlough Convery as Thomas Kelley, Brandon Tabassi as Emily's Irish Pallbearer, Loïs van Wijk as Classmate of Young Emily

Also starring:

Contactmusic

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