House of Shohreh
Sneak preview: House of Sand and Fog
December 22, 2003
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend
a sneak preview of House
of Sand and Fog. I'm
one of those people who don't particularly enjoy movies based
on books and believe some of the essence is lost in the process.
I had read the book when it first came out, and naturally, did
not expect much. But it was a free ticket and, I'll admit, I
was curious to see how Shohreh Aghdashloo fared against an award
winning actress, Jennifer Connelly, and by Ben Kingsley's side.
It was a pleasant surprise.
Having seen some short previews in the theater,
I had thought Kingsley the wrong choice for the part. "With
all these good Iranian actors-Shohreh's husband included- who
to mumble Persian words?" I had complained. Well, it's a
good thing they didn't listen to me, because Kingsley is perfect
for the part. The man may have no future as a linguist- he
can't even pronounce his own name, Behrani-he is, for the most
part, quite believable and delivers an outstanding performance.
I must admit, for the first time, I learned how
a movie not only can do a good job, but in fact be more powerful
than the book.
In this instance it could be partly due to the fantastic camera
job which finds the most effective light and just the perfect
angle. The soundtrack, though quite effective, is not overwhelming
and does not distract. The performances are fantastic.
When I read the book, by Andre Dubus III, I didn't
care much for the American woman, Kathy (Jennifer Connelly).
But her flawless
performance helps the viewer to see the confused young woman
in a light that words had failed to show her. She was simply
How did our own Shohreh Aghdashloo fare next to
her? Equally magnificent-and I'm not just saying that because
Turning her good English into broken words-with a deep Persian
accent-she has the caring, submissive, Iranian wife packed down
to perfection. Oh, I bet Iranians everywhere are going to criticize
her for the little bedroom scene, but, come on guys,
she was with Gandhi!
No doubt, this will be one of the most talked
about films of the decade. But unlike other films that stirred
against Iranian immigrants, this will be sure to open a few eyes
to the decency and needs -indeed, dreams- of Iranian immigrants.
It will be sure to win numerous awards and, considering how I
cried the entire time, will sell a lot of Kleenex.
What did I
not like at all? The same thing I didn't like in the book: its
ending. For a strong scenario such as this, the ending
leaves a lot to be desired.
Did they have any big "blunders"?
Sure they did!
Hey, Mr. Perelman, make her turn on the engine
before using the car's cigarette lighter!
I'm a smoker; I should know.
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani is a retired dentist and a freelance
writer. She lives in San Diego, California. Top
this page to your friends