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A Quiet Passion
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Cynthia Nixon delivers a triumphant performance as Emily Dickinson as she personifies the wit, intellectual independence and pathos of the poet whose genius only came to be recognized after her death. Acclaimed British director Terence Davies (House of Mirth, The Deep Blue Sea) exquisitely evokes Dickinson s deep attachment to her close-knit family along with the manners, mores and spiritual convictions of her time that she struggled with and transcended in her poetry.
An absolute drop-dead masterwork. --Richard Brody, The New Yorker
One of the most unique and mesmerizing films of the year. --Jordan Hoffman, Vanity Fair
A richly idiosyncratic portrait of Emily Dickinson...played with steely wit and piercing vulnerability by Cynthia Nixon. --Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
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But we never see Dickinson baking the bread, getting her hands dirty, being sweaty, tending the finicky and devilishly hot, wood burning stove. In fact, we never see her getting dressed, doing chores, tending to the daily drudgery, which she in fact did - she baked for the entire family, and she cared for her ailing mother much sooner than the film suggests. This is important, because to understand Dickinson you have to get this fact - She. Worked. Hard. She labored. Later in life, Dickinson would have probably been more handy around the house than most adult men today. Instead, we see a disembodied Emily, all bon mots, quips and, most horrible of all - a contrarian, an intellectual gainsayer who seems to take nasty pleasure in verbally wounding others. This is 21st Century narcissistic swill - where we remake our heroines in our own image: as “poetic souls”, tortured, victimized by the Patriarchy and embittered by frustrated genius. This misses the brilliance of who she was and what she actually did. To appreciate the lightness of her poetry you need to understand the sheer physical weight of her world, a world she somehow transcended - not out of noble bitterness or through some proto-feminist defiance, as the movie suggests, but through her own grace, and what was undoubtedly acceptance of her role. She was naturally introverted and her focus was quite comfortably on the domestic. Her poetry fed her and buoyed her and grew out of a love for and comfort with herself.
To cut her off at the neck and to make her a disagreeable intellectual, marginalizes not only her poetry but her inherent lightness of being.
The film was for starters woefully inaccurate. I don't blame Cythia Nixon for the film's failure as she is a decent actress, it was however the script and direction of the film that made the movie awful.
The portayal of Emily as a bitter and lonely woman, not to make mention the implications that she suffered from some sort of epliepsy we're patently false! Also Austin Dickinson was the one who paid the $500.00 so he would not be drafted into the Civil War ( meaning he was a true coward). In the movie they show him wanting to do his part and go to war and that his father forbid it and his father paid for him not to be drafted ( all lies).
The film is long and dreary, and certain parts should have been edited out and true occurances should have been added in (Like Emily lowering fresh baked bread to delighted children outside of her window). Miss Buffam is an insufferably false character and for such a person to have had such a large role in this film is insulting to Emily's life. Miss Buffam is a fictatous character, she never existed! Emily Dickinson had many friends with whom she wrote to regularly. Why didn't the screen writers consider having them in the movie?
The only plus to this movie is that they read many of Emily's poems, but it is not enough to salvage such an awful script! Don't bother with this movie it is a huge disappointment, and I believe that with all of my heart Emily who not have approved of such a ghastly portayal of her life.
Oh my goodness, how disappointed I am now that I have seen it.
Poetry is a first love for me, and Emily Dickinson one of the reasons for it. Her work is so perfect, so light, so truthful, so plain and simple in its statements that there is not an ounce of such angst and bitterness as we see here in the representation given by Cynthia Nixon.
One other reviewer said that this is not so much the fault of the actress, but of the script. Actually, I think it is both. The effort to be earnest results in a kind of stiffness, an inhumanity I cannot imagine in the poet famed only posthumously. The acting is so overdone it is awful. Truly awful.
Emily Dickinson is far better presented, I daresay, in Elizabeth Spires' Mouse of Amherst than in this movie.
Yes, the poetry is lovely, but it's hard to focus on that beauty given the film's disappointing presentation of the work, through Nixon's highly uninspired readings, in concert with background music. It's poetic sacrilege.
I much prefer the view of Emily Dickinson presented in Spires' short children's novel, in which a mouse named Emmaline resides in the wainscoting of the poet's bedroom and enters a poetic dialogue with the reticent, demure---and extraordinarily gifted---woman.
This movie, by contrast, in focusing on Emily Dickinson's unhappiness and pain, rather than her sheer delight in life, her poignant understanding of all matters human, despite her solitary existence, makes a sham of her.
This film, in focusing on misery, defiles the beauty of her work.
I so wish that someone would make a film about this greatest of American poets and celebrate her, much as did Jane Campion's Bright Star, the 2009 British-French-Australian biographical fiction based on the last three years in the life of John Keats, and his love for Fanny Brawne.
This film, too, has fictions, as other reviewers have noted, but the net result is a sad misrepresentation of one of the greatest American literary figures of all time.
This film is an unmitigated disaster.