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House of Shohreh
Sneak preview: House of Sand and Fog

December 22, 2003
The Iranian

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 needs Gandhi 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 magnificent.

How did our own Shohreh Aghdashloo fare next to her? Equally magnificent-and I'm not just saying that because she's ours! 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 negative emotions 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

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By Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani




Book of the day

House of Sand and Fog
Novel about a former colonel in the Iranian military living in San Francisco
By Andre Dubus III

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