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
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.
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.
5/10. A QUIET PASSION feels somewhat stiff and very wordy. Much of the time, it plays like a less sharp comedy of manners, though it is isn't really a comedy--the film is punctuated at regular intervals by deaths of key characters. The overall effect is one that doesn't quite work. Some amazing moments though: the aging effect is spooky, and Dickinson's awkward tea with the preacher and his wife is incredibly funny.