House of Sand and Fog Vadim Perelman

House of Sand and Fog Vadim Perelman
House of Sand and Fog, a quietly gripping and surprisingly propulsive little drama, will certainly find a larger audience at home than the little film did in theatres. The attention already given to its performances — Sir Ben Kingsley and Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo were Oscar-nominated, and Jennifer Connelly deserved to be — will attract curious viewers but word of mouth about its powerful tragedy will sustain it. Connelly plays Kathy, a recovering alcoholic whose grip on her life is slipping; the beach-house inherited from her father is her only anchor to the world, but when she neglects to pay miniscule back taxes, she is evicted and the house is taken from her. Sir Ben Kingsley plays a former Iranian colonel desperate to make good on the American dream and return his family to the status they enjoyed in their native country; buying the auctioned house and turning it around at a profit is the leg up the family needs. The film, adapted from a novel from Andre Dubus III by first time director Perelman, is a compelling character drama because it refuses to vilify or canonise any of its participants. Kathy is weak-willed, certainly, but Connelly infuses her with tragic dignity. Kingsley's patriarch, while stubborn, wants the best for his family and has had too many opportunities snatched from him to let another go. Their downward spiral together is not the product of any epic flaw or mistake but the result of the incremental choices and mistakes we all make. This DVD does exactly what one should — it illuminates the filmmaking and adapting process (an interesting "making of"), demonstrates specific storytelling choices (through a series of deleted scenes) and offers up a triple threat commentary of performance (from Sir Ben — and everyone calls him Sir Ben), direction (Perelman) and source material (novelist Dubus III). It's not light viewing — this drama grabs your heartstrings and pulls hard. Plus: Shohreh Aghdashloo's audition tape, photo gallery, more. (Dreamworks/Universal)