HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG

Directed by Vadim Perelman. U.S.A. 2003.


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Halfway through this film I was asking myself where is the sand?  There is plenty of fog sweeping through the hills of San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge but, apart from an opening shot on the Caspian Sea, no sand.  But that is the problem with the film, you are left asking too many questions concerning aesthetics and direction, that it distracts you from some fine acting performances by Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connolly.

A film that questions the validity of the American Dream from an immigrant's eyes seems vital at this time in the country's history.  American cinema is always best when dealing with addiction and the class structure of a country supposedly built on equality.  But whereas, The Lost Weekend and Affliction were all driven by strong central performances they were not hindered by a narrative structure full of coincidence and the 'if only' element; if only Kathy (Connolly) had opened her mail and if only Behrani (Kingsley) had not bought that specific house.  Alas when you choose to do an adaptation you do hinder what you work with, but Perelman himself is an immigrant from Ukraine so the content must hold something for him.

The clash between the sexes, classes and cultures follows but because both characters (and performers) are given equal screen time (the only thing they can share), the audience are unsure how to react and who to have their allegiances lie with.  Are you glad Kathy breaks up someone's marriage? Are you angry at Behrani's actions towards women?  The unsure direction does not question either character and neither performance descends into stereotype enough (falling off the wagon fully and domestic violent husband) to shift the audience's emotions.  All these factors leave the viewer with an unsatisfied taste in their mouth at the film's conclusion after an uncomfortable feature.

Jamie Garwood
 
 
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