HPPUB MOVIE REVIEW of House of Sand and Fog


Title:House of Sand and Fog

Release Date:2003

Nationality and Language: USA, English

Running time: 122 Min

MPAA Rating:R

Distributor and Production Company:Dreamworks / Cobalt

Director; Writer: Vadim Perelman, based on novel by Andre Dubus III

Producer: Michael London

Cast:†† Jennifer Connelly, Ben Kingsley, Ron Eldard, Frances Fisher, Kim Dickens, Jonathan Ahdout, Shohreh Aghdashloo


Relevance to HPPUB site:



Well, as I have gotten older and life has grown more complicated, I have found that opening a mailbox can be an event. Dec. 27, 1994 (the first business day after Christmas) late in the day I found a certified letter at the bottom of my apartment mailbox. The postman didnít make me go to the post office to pick it up. It was from a mortgage company, and I had sold a condo in Texas under assumption three years before. Iíll skip the rest of my own details nowóif eventually turned out all righóbut some of this is territory that I have seen before.


Kathy Nicolo (Jennifer Connelly) doesnít open her mail or even look at it. Eight months before she got a picturesque house on the California SFBay area coast when her husband left her. It seems that the County thinks her husband owes taxes on a home-based business that he either didnít report or didnít pay. She can lose her house on her husbandís $500 back taxes. Although, it turns out, the County made a mistake,


Nevertheless, the deputy sheriff (Ron Eldard) shows up at 6 AM one morning and demonstrates what a foreclosure eviction looks like. Itís ugly. Notices are pasted on the door, Her stuff can be put out in the street.


Two complications follow. The sheriffís deputy is not of reliable character, and he gets involved with Kathy (predictable) and does some bad things trying to help her. In the meantime, Massoud Amir Behrani, (Ben Kingsley of Sexy Beast) a former military officer under the Shah of Iran and displaced in the 1979 revolt, buys the house immediately, moves his family into it, and prepares to get quadruple value back. And Massoud really needs the money. His family, including gifted teenage son (Jonathan Ahdout) will soon run out of money and live in the streets. Massoud is trying to make it in the American middle class under capitalism. Though devoutly religious, all of his behavior seems to value life, property, accomplishment, work, and a better life, so he shares none of the values of radical Islam as reported after 9-11.


The story builds to a tragic climax, logically in a way, but not satisfying. This should be a Shakespeare tragedy, maybe, but it isnít. The deputy sheriff is just too sleazy. The melodrama is too much like early afternoon soap opera. The political cards are played well enough: materialism and profits v. the needy and v. the family v. religion.But situations in real life, while often even more complicated, tend to be even more subtle than in this movie.


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