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House of Sand

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Brazil, 1910. A madman takes his young pregnant wife, Áurea, and her mother into the desert to build a house and start a new life. He picks his spot, erects a flimsy building on a dune, and promptly dies. Thus, his wife begins a life of trying to get out of the wasteland. Real-life daughter and mother Fernanda Torres and Fernanda Montenegro play the abandoned pair. But such is life in the desert -- where time is measured not in months or years but generations -- that these actresses will play their own descendants. House of Sand director Andrucha Waddington has an eye for the beautiful, but he never stays with one image so long that he exchanges style for substance. There are big philosophies in the sand -- liberation, civilization, even astrophysics -- and though presented subtly, the movie doesn't scrimp on how these ideas play out in the lives of these women. The performances by Torres and Montenegro are as diverse as the script calls for and as excellent as can be imagined. Even the relative brevity (114 minutes) of the film works. A decade can pass in the blink of a frame, and as the desert grows less imposing and more comfortable to its characters, so does the movie ingrain itself into our own viewing experience. It's one of the best films of the year.

Opening Friday, October 13th, at Ridgeway Four

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