Not the easiest film to get into: it's written and acted like a stage play, with the kind of mannerisms that drain human behavior of spontaneity. But as time passes it becomes elegiac, its admirably defiant heroine rigid while the constants in her life disappear. After all, did she ever have a better option? Not sensationalized enough for the Academy or "edgy" for enough for indies, it maintains a simple purity.
Emily: “Those of us who live minor lives, and are deprived of a particular kind of love, we know best how to starve. We deceive ourselves. And then others. It is the worst kind of lie.” Susan: “But in matters of the soul, you are rigorous.” Emily: “Rigor is no substitute for happiness.”
Some find the film slow, boring and depressing. Dickinson wasn't a modern Hollywood action heroine but a poet who became reclusive. Frustrated by lack of interest in, and tampering with, her few published poems, she was worn down too by restrictive female roles and finally her own ill health. But along the way the film also has grace and wit and conveys her unique spark- thanks to a superb central performance.
5 stars for Cynthia Nixon. She is astounding.The rest of the production is desperately in need of some Merchant/Ivory magic to inject the world with some excitement. We need panoramic landscape shots; we need bustling Amherst street scenes; we need to see the whole opera house and audience. Anything to situate the Dickinson house with the larger world. As it is, we drown in claustrophobic, stiffly delivered dialogue.
After a rare misstep (the maudlin, melodramatic Sunset Song) director Terence Davies quickly returns with an absolutely stunning film about poet Emily Dickinson. Richly directed and written by Davies with his usual amazing attention to detail aided by what may be a career best performance by Cynthia Nixon. Nixon captures a complex character full of hope and familial fidelity who gives into bitterness and resentment.
A poor neurotic portray of a fascinating woman. As for directing, tedious dialogue and voice over don't leave enough space for the filmic language to unravel properly allowing us to access our lead poetically – rather than intellectually. Cinema is poetry but it must use the medium's own language.
What a terrible waste of a subject. This could have been a delicious portrait of a delicious artist and turned out to be a dull, boring, tasteless caricature of a sort of hysterical madness gone very wrong. I would say the failure lies in every corner of it: the script, the lack of direction, the lousy editing, the absolute absence of any cinematographic beauty... A shame. Total lack of poetry, I acuse.
A part of me loves that Kanye would respect this film - knowing that for some capital-A Artists the experience of living evokes too much. Too much beauty, too much insight, too much suffering. And yet Davies alludes me, the scenes keep coming at a monotone pitch of dialogue and episodes, moving to inevitability. Yet still, the moral seriousness I find affecting, and something in his scope will see me revisit 2.5
Pleasantly theatrical in its writing, uncomfortably real in its depiction of the human experience (to include susceptibility to the march of time and those most ugly of human conditions--illness, death, old maidhood). It is incredibly refreshing in both respects. I know little of Dickenson's work, nor do I even like it based on the prose recited in the movie; yet I now count her along my most close literary friends.
a conflicted 4...doesn't have much to do w/ Emily Dickinson, but that's fine; was in a lot of pain for the first half+ bc almost everyone sounded like they were making fun of how actors might overact how they think people sounded in the 19th century ie an awful pageant (and then Emily and others will speak in a more normal voice in different settings so it's at least half intentional?) high highs and very low lows