There it resembles Bergman too: the self chastising, the self examination, accusation and reproach; the moral duty to become better, and while this may recreate the anxieties of the people involved, it is not accomplished writing. I am surprised Jennifer Ehle agreed to act in this. Not only does it indulge in the stupidest clichés religion bad; 19th century repressive etc etc ; its basic understanding of the relation between art and personality is lower than your average undergraduate's. He is also a remarkably fine writer with a perfect 'ear' for dialogue regardless of the period in which his films are set. Davies sketches Dickinson's life in a series of brush strokes fromrebellious youth to painful death in early middle-age through a seriesof short, sharp conversation scenes, mostly with members of her ownfamily together with readings from her poetry and the detail he packsinto these scenes is extraordinary. Even quoting Emily Dickinson does not save this movie or make this watchable. Some may bemore familiar with the old Julie Harris vehicle about Dickenson, TheBelle of Amherst, which she performed on stage.
It manages to trivialize her poetry by having little sections snuck into the dialogue as they were spontaneous statements. The cinematography is splendid, and the costumes and the over-furnished sets convey a stifling sense of the period. Cynthia Nixon gives a good, restrained performance. The overdonemanners of the era are parodied in drawing-room scenes borrowed fromJane Austen and Oscar Wilde, scenes that are pleasingly comic but seemmore than a little contrived. I only made it through the first 40 minutes before being bored to tears so I cant fully judge this movie. According to this biography, Dickinson was a frustrated artist who held people to unrealistically high moral standards and refused to accept the slightest weakness in anyone.
I'm not ever sure the actors were at fault, since the script was so completely unconvincing, but I didn't believe there was an ounce of genuine emotion displayed in the 20 minutes of the film I could bear to watch. This made her a riot to be around, as you can imagine, and caused her to die -- shocker!! From what I saw, it looks like the Wikipedia page would be more accurate, too. British director Terence Davies shows Dickinson as a person who refusedto stick to the strict rules of life in the Victorian era. I'm not even sure I can say I've seen it since me and my girlfriend walked out of the theater 20 minutes in. A young man who courtsher later in the movie has to talk to her unseen at the top of thestairs. This movie is way to slow, and does not contain enough substance for a two hour film. Another strength lies in the poems that are read in voice-over.
The script had horrible, constant exposition. The rest of the cast are awful, especially the brother and his wife. It's nice to seeher in a role that's the complete opposite from the career lawyerMiranda in 'Sex and the City'. The actors are bad, the dialogue worse, and the direction captures all the life and emotions of a carefully posed Daguerrotype. The opera scene was way to long without enough script to justify it being there at all.
But 'A Quiet Passion', about 19thcentury American poet Emily Dickinson, is also full of it. Perhaps this has something to do with his sexuality, perhaps not; perhaps his being a gay man has nothing to do with anything, though one only has to look to Cukor to see a connection. The film is funereally paced, and consists of one monotonous scene after another in which Dickinson gets her knickers in a twist about one thing or another and yells at whoever happens to be in the room with her. Perhapsthis has something to do with his sexuality, perhaps not; perhaps hisbeing a gay man has nothing to do with anything, though one only has tolook to Cukor to see a connection. As a young woman, Dickinson attended a female seminary but ultimatelyreturned home to her family.
That may not be very interesting and its presentation is quite static, but then, so were the lives of the people depicted. Within the first half, I wished I could reach through the screen and strangle the characters portraying Emily and Susan. With the possible exception of Walt Whitman, Dickinson is now recognized as the most important American poet of the 19th century. Clearly, sheused her talent not only to write poetry, but also to engage inspirited conversation. Dickinson's poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation. .
Nixon reads some of the verse invoice-over but the early efforts, celebrating Nature, are not in WaltWhitman's league and only the later poems anticipating almostinviting Death have any real resonance. The film is a calm and quietaffair, which is good because Dickinson's life itself was calm andquiet. Only a few poemswere published in the local paper. She'd be the girl who would join a group of friends if she had any at a football game and then spend the entire time complaining about the pointlessness of football. While Dickinson was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime. Here's hoping they don't doanother movie of the latter. In this regard, there is no subtlety in the film'spresentation as the camera unnecessarily lingers over Emily's shakingfits for an inordinate length of time and her last days are anendurance test for the audience.
She wrote beautiful poetry, much of which was discovered after herdeath. I didn't like them enough to stay, and I strongly encourage casual moviegoers to stay away from this film. Both seemed to delight in their own incessant, yet insipid, comments, thinking it would delight the audience as witty repartee. Dickinson was a recluse for the later years of her life. She did not leave any commentaries to interpret her work, but left themfor us to understand and explain.
As the film opens, Emily is tagged as anoutsider almost immediately. Her own ego had left no space for anyone else. Terence Davies has directed somememorable period films in his career such as his remarkable adaptationof Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth. She became more and more reclusiveand later on refused to leave her bedroom. In one comic scene, she scolds the local newspaper editor for changing her punctuation.