House of Sand and Fog

Infobox_Film
name = House of Sand and Fog


|
caption = "House of Sand and Fog" movie poster
director = Vadim Perelman
producer = Vadim Perelman
Michael London
writer = Screenplay by Vadim Perelman
Shawn Lawrence Otto
Based on the novel by Andre Dubus III
starring = Jennifer Connelly
Ben Kingsley
Ron Eldard
Shohreh Aghdashloo
music = James Horner
Elton Ahi
(Songs)
cinematography = Roger Deakins
editing = Lisa Zeno Churgin
distributor = DreamWorks Distribution LLC (USA)
Miramax Films (UK) | released = December 26, 2003
runtime = 126 min.
country = USA
awards = Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
National Board of Review award for Best Debut Director
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
language = English
Persian
budget = $16,000,000 (estimated)
amg_id = 1:281579
imdb_id = 0315983

"House of Sand and Fog" is a 2003 American drama film directed by Vadim Perelman. The screenplay by Perelman and Shawn Lawrence Otto is based on the novel of the same name by Andre Dubus III.

The story concerns the battle between a young woman and an immigrant Iranian family over ownership of a house in Northern California which ultimately has dire consequences.

Plot

Kathy Nicolo is a recovering addict living in a small house near the coast in Northern California that she and her brother inherited from their father. Abandoned by her husband and trapped by a malaise that has left her depressed and unresponsive to her surroundings, she ignores a number of notices threatening her with eviction for an alleged nonpayment of business taxes. She only becomes aware of her precarious situation when the police forcibly remove her and her belongings from the house and put it up for auction.

Immigrant Massoud Amir Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian Army, fled his homeland with his family during a time of conflict and now lives in San Francisco. While working at menial jobs, he maintains the appearance of being a respectable businessman so as not to shame his wife Nadireh, son Esmail, and married daughter Soraya. His path crosses with that of Kathy when he purchases her house at a price he later learns is a quarter of its actual value. After some renovations and additions, he intends to flip the property and use the profits to buy a larger home.

Taking the advice of Deputy Sheriff Lester Burdon, who was assigned to handle her eviction, Kathy seeks legal assistance to regain title to her house. Attorney Connie Walsh is confident the fact her property was wrested away from her based on an incorrect assumption she owed taxes will force the county to return Massoud's money and reinstall her in the house. Massoud, however, is not prepared to accept anything less than the appraised value of the property.

Lester leaves his wife and children and becomes Kathy's protector, confronting Massoud and threatening him with deportation if he refuses to cooperate. Kathy, seeing no satisfactory resolution to her problems, attempts suicide in her old driveway and is rescued by Massoud, only to swallow a handful of pills while in the bath. Unconscious, she's discovered by Nadireh, who forces her to vomit the medication. As she and her husband are trying to get Kathy into the bedroom, Lester comes looking for her, misinterprets what he sees, and holds the Behrani family hostage until Massoud agrees to his proposal - accept the $45,000 he paid for the house from the county and relinquish the payment to Kathy in exchange for her giving him title to the property.

Massoud and his son accompany Lester to the county office to finalize the transaction. On the steps, Esmail seizes Lester's gun and aims it at him. Though dishelveled Lester still wears his police uniform and the commotion draws two police officers. To them a fellow officer is being held hostage. The officers draw their weapons and in the confusion Esmail Behrani turns towards them. They shoot in what they believe to be self defence. Esmail is rushed to hospital. He does not survive.

Overcome with grief, Massoud returns home. He drugs his wife's tea with a lethal dose of medication, then dons his old military uniform, tapes a plastic dust cover around his head, and slowly asphyxiates beside his wife's body. Kathy finds the couple and attempts to revive Massoud with CPR, but is unsuccessful. As their bodies are being taken away by paramedics, a policeman asks Kathy if the house is hers. After a pause, she quietly replies that it isn't.

Production notes

Shohreh Aghdashloo was a respected actress in Iran before emigrating to the United States. When the film roles she was offered were limited to terrorists and other assorted villains, she turned to a career in the theatre. This film marked her return to the screen after nearly two decades ["House of Sand and Fog" DVD Special Features] .

Jonathan Ahdout, whose previous acting experience was limited to school plays, was cast as Esmail Behrani two days prior to the start of filming. His original audition had not impressed Vadim Perelman, but when he began to have doubts about the actor he ultimately had hired, he reviewed the audition tapes and saw something in Ahdout's performance he felt he previously had overlooked. He called him back and had him meet and perform with Aghdashloo. The chemistry between them convinced Perelman the boy was right for the part ["House of Sand and Fog" DVD Special Features] .

Establishing shots were filmed in San Francisco, Carpinteria, Pacifica, San Mateo County, and Santa Clarita, but the house of the title actually is located in Malibu. An original soundtrack album featuring James Horner's film score and songs by Mohammad Heydari and Elton Ahi was released by Varèse Sarabande.

The film grossed $13,040,288 in the US and $3,902,507 in foreign markets for a worldwide box office total of $16,942,795 [ [http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=houseofsandandfog.htm "House of Sand and Fog" at Box Office Mojo] ] .

Principal cast

*Jennifer Connelly ..... Kathy Nicolo
*Ben Kingsley ..... Massoud Behrani
*Shohreh Aghdashloo ..... Nadereh "Nadi" Behrani
*Ron Eldard ..... Lester Burdon
*Frances Fisher ..... Connie Walsh
*Jonathan Ahdout ..... Esmail Behrani
*Kim Dickens ..... Carol Burdon

Critical reception

In his review in the "New York Times", A.O. Scott called the film "an impressively self-assured directing debut" and added, " [it] is the nearly flawless execution of a deeply flawed premise. Mr. Perelman inadvertently exposes the inconsistencies in Mr. Dubus's novel even as he comes very close to overcoming them . . . the conflict between Kathy and Behrani arises from a sin so trivial as to be almost comical . . . and every stage of its escalation seems determined less by the psychology of the characters than by the forced, schematic logic of the story. You feel the heavy, implacable force of the narrative without quite believing it." [ [http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9401E2DB173FF93AA25751C1A9659C8B63 "New York Times" review] ]

Roger Ebert of the "Chicago Sun-Times" said, "Here is a film that seizes us with its first scene and never lets go, and we feel sympathy all the way through for everyone in it . . . it stands with integrity and breaks our hearts." [ [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20031226/REVIEWS/312260302/1023 "Chicago Sun-Times" review] ]

Owen Gleiberman of "Entertainment Weekly" rated the film B- with the comments, " [it] has its pretensions, but mostly it's a vigorous and bracingly acted melodrama spun off from a situation that's pure human-thriller catnip . . . though I do wish that the movie didn't spiral into the most shocking of tragedies." [ [http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,488173,00.html "Entertainment Weekly" review] ]

Peter Travers of "Rolling Stone" rated it three out of a possible four stars and added, "Before it runs off course into excess, this brilliantly acted film version of the 1999 novel by Andre Dubus III moves with a stabbing urgency . . . Vadim Perelman . . . makes a smashing debut in features . . . Prepare for an emotional wipeout." [ [http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/movie/5947853/review/5947854/house_of_sand_and_fog "Rolling Stone" review] ]

In "The New Yorker", David Denby stated, "Ben Kingsley . . . [is] the only entertainment in this noble pool of despair . . . Vadim Perelman . . . produces scenes of great intensity, but he doesn’t capture the colloquial ease and humor of American life." [ [http://www.newyorker.com/arts/reviews/film/house_of_sand_and_fog_perelman "The New Yorker" review] ]

In "Salon", Andrew O'Hehir said it "features an astonishing pair of lead performances and one of this year's most impressive directing debuts." [ [http://dir.salon.com/story/ent/movies/review/2003/12/25/sand_fog/index.html "Salon" review] ]

Channel 4 says, "There's nothing wrong in funnelling operatic tragedy through seemingly mundane domestic battles, but the way events escalate here feels deeply fraudulent . . . heavy-handed allegory and symbolism wait at every turn . . . . though relentlessly downbeat, this is so overwrought, underdeveloped and ham-fisted that it's more unintentionally comic than genuinely tragic." [ [http://geo.channel4.com/film/reviews/film.jsp?id=127156 Channel 4 review] ]

Awards and nominations

*Academy Award for Best Actor (Ben Kingsley, nominee)
*Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Shohreh Aghdashloo, nominee)
*Academy Award for Best Original Score (nominee)
*Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama (Kingsley, nominee)
*Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Kingsley, nominee)
*New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (Shohreh Aghdashloo, winner)
*National Board of Review Award for Best Directorial Debut (winner)
*Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress (Aghdashloo, winner)
*Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female (Aghdashloo, winner)
*Independent Spirit Award for Best Actor (Kinglsey, nominee)
*Independent Spirit Award for Best First Film (nominee)
*Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor (Kingsley, nominee)
*Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress (Jennifer Connelly, nominee)
*Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor (Kingsley, winner)
*Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (nominee)
*Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Breakout Director of the Year (nominee)

References

External links

*imdb title | id=0315983 | title=House of Sand and Fog
* [http://www.moviehole.net/news/20031215_2904.html Jennifer Connelly interview]


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