A QUIET PASSION
(director/writer: Terence Davies; cinematographer: Florian Hoffmeister; editor: Pia di Cialua; music: Ian Neil; cast: Cynthia Nixon (Emily Dickinson), Jennifer Ehle (Vinnie), Jennifer Ehle (), Keith Carradine (Edward Dickinson), Jodhi May (Susan Gilbert), Catherine Bailey (Vryling Buffam), Joanna Bacon (Emily Norcross-mother), Emma Bell (Young Emily Dickinson), Duncan Duff (Austin Dickinson), Eric Loren (Reverend Wadsworth), Annette Badland (Aunt Elizabeth), Steve Dan Mills (Dr. Holland), Noemie Schellens (Mabel Loomis Todd), Trevor Cooper (Samuel Bowles), Stefan Menaul (Mr. Emmons), Simone Milsdochter Mrs. Wadsworth), (Mr. Wilder); Runtime: 126; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Ray Boulter/Solon Papadopoulos; Music Box Films; 2016-UK)
“It’s brilliantly directed with a quiet passion of its own by arguably Great Britain’s most artistic indie director, Terence Davies.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A masterful and haunting portrait of one of America’s greatest poets, though Emily Dickinson (Cynthia Nixon), 1830-1880, was obscure at the time of her death, which was due to the painful Brights disease (a kidney malfunction). She wrote1800 poems with only 12 published in newspapers. It’s brilliantly directed with a quiet passion of its own by arguably Great Britain’s most artistic indie director, Terence Davies (“The House of Mirth”/”The Neon Bible”). The auteur is a kindred spirit of the poet and the right choice to direct such an uncompromising film about an artist who wouldn’t compromise her beliefs. The sophisticated and engaging top-shelf biopic follows a literate script in a slow pace to inescapably trace unmarried Dickinson’s austere life of living only for poetry and for her family. She lived her entire life at her family home in Amherst, Massuchetts, and during her last years confined herself to her attic room. Through readings of her sublime poetry we follow her as she first rejects the bullying tendencies of the Mount Holyoke seminary (played as a teen by Emma Bell) to force her to conform to Christian dogmas and rather than stay there as a boarding student returns home to live with her stern but fair-minded wealthy lawyer father Edward (Keith Carradine); her withdrawn, ailing, kind-hearted, fragile, clinically depressed mother Emily (Joanna Bacon); her nurturing sister Vinnie (Jennifer Ehle) and, at the time, protective brother Austin (Duncan Duff). Rejecting the rigorous Puritan beliefs of her close-knit community the opinionated and intractable poet writes at night and is unfriendly to callers and becomes increasingly more bitter when the married Reverend Wadsworth (Eric Loren) rejects her love interest. She lived in isolation but is spurred on by her rich imaginative inner life, of writing and the comfort she takes in her family. Cynthia Nixon inhabits the lonely, melancholy role of the genius poet using her sharp wit on anyone who thinks they can get away with putting her down with facile insults and rails against the narrowness of her community’s hypocritical piety. At all times Nixon amazes as the poet with eternal aspirations, even if she can’t completely connect with the outside world.Catherine Bailey has a powerful supporting role as Emily’s witty and refreshingly candid feminist friend who distances herself from her when she marries. It’s the rare biopic that is so good and true to the poet, a timeless movie that can be viewed as a work of art–one that is so capably filmed and acted. It’s a masterpiece that captures the spirit of a poet and should move your heart if you care about identifying with a long-suffering poet who asked for no pity and found transcendence in her mostly unread poetry.
REVIEWED ON 3/19/2018 GRADE: A+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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