This artist biopic ought to be one of Terence Davies's more accessible movies (and it is in many ways since there is more humor in it than you would expect) but it is also a gut-wrenching film due to the main performance which I had not been prepared for. I was expecting a cold beautiful aesthetic but I got so much more with Cynthia Nixon. I can't believe there can be a better performance given this year.
Though a fastidiously composed and serious work of art (that at times reminded me of the highest heights of Max Ophüls), I feel I must attribute to Davies here a kind of undercurrent of sniggering remove in his treatment of an American subject; far from being a liability, this indirectly caused me to feel champagne-drunk and giddy for the first two-thirds. Helps that Dickinson is impossibly dear to me.
More theatrical than cinematic. Excess of tedious dialogue and voice over don't leave enough space for the filmic language to unravel properly allowing us to access our lead poetically – and not intellectually. Cinema is poetry but it must use its own language.
Moments of Davies' artistic genius are found in the way light passes, in the way the camera lingers in close up, and the way song is woven into the otherwise overly literary, conversation centered film.
84/100 - Great.
Davies never misses a beat in this elegiac, winsome portrait of the Dickinson family, bursting with delicious barbs and epigrams, and above all, the soaring, indomitable spirit of Emily as she grapples with God, mortality and suffocating gender roles.
Melancholic about the dry, digital look, the idea that a budget this small would have been unthinkable about a decade ago. But Davies works those tight spaces, and entrances with deep dives into expressionism. On the comedy: while the characterization is convincing, the delivery doesn't inspire laughter. The last, Flaubertian, act treats death with respect and makes up for the loss. Nixon awes with her sharp angles.
I did not care for it. It reminded me of late period Dreyer; beautiful compositions and tracking shots, but stale, with lots of stilted acting and dialogue.
The still could be a Vilhelm Hammershøi-painting!