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House of Sand and Fog (2003)

R  |   |  Drama  |  9 January 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 55,110 users   Metascore: 71/100
Reviews: 463 user | 157 critic | 41 from Metacritic.com

An abandoned wife is evicted from her house and starts a tragic conflict with her home's new owners.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 31 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jaleh Modjallal ...
Matthew Simonian ...
Wedding Guest (as Namrata S. Gurjal-Cooper)
Wedding Guest (as Al Faris)


An emotionally broken woman, Kathy, suddenly finds herself homeless after her house is wrongly repossessed and auctioned. Seeking respite from his marriage, Lester, a sympathetic sheriff's deputy comes to the aid of Kathy and becomes intimately involved in her situation. Soon, Behrani, a proud emigrant Iranian and his family move into the house only to find their new lives burdened by harassment from Lester and Kathy as they attempt to reclaim her former home. The once prosperous colonel denies Kathy's pleas for he knows his recent purchase promises a profitable return and a better future for his adolescent son and his wife. But latent consequences lie beneath Behrani's well intentioned plan as Kathy's emotions spiral out of control and her actions spark a tragic chain of events that will leave no resident unscathed in the House of Sand and Fog. Written by Tiler Faisal

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Some dreams can't be shared.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence/disturbing images, language and a scene of sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

9 January 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Casa de arena y niebla  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$45,572 (USA) (19 December 2003)


$13,005,485 (USA) (26 March 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ben Kingsley was given a copy of the novel "House of Sand and Fog" by author Andre Dubus III's wife, before he was ever approached to star in the movie. See more »


When Behrani and Esmail are talking in Esmail's bedroom, the pillow shifts position from horizontally behind the lower lumbar part of Esmail's back, to standing vertically up to Esmail's shoulders, then back to the original horizontal position behind his back. See more »


[first lines]
Officer at End: Are you Kathy Nicolo?
Kathy: Yeah.
Officer at End: Is this your house?
See more »


Referenced in The Simpsons: Wedding for Disaster (2009) See more »


Written by Varoujan & Iraj Janati-Ataei
Performed by Googoosh
See more »

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User Reviews

An unfailingly beautiful piece of work
30 December 2003 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

"House of Sand and Fog" is by far the finest film I've seen this year, and probably the best I've seen since the dial turned from the 1990's into the new millennium.

Vadim Perelman makes a movie so astoundingly beautiful that one has to think he's been doing this for years, but this is his first film. Set in a fog-drenched Southern California community, Perelman sets two immoveable forces apart from each other -- Cathy, a recovering alcoholic burdened by the memory of her late father, still trying to prove that she is a responsible person in his eyes, and Behrani, a colonel driven out of Iran with his family and desperately trying to maintain a life of stability and promise. In these two roles, Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley give steely performances, each presenting troubled souls trapped within stubborn facades. Connelly once again gives a masterful performance, balancing a reckless sensuality with the desire to find acceptance and love within anything, even a house where the memories have become so painful that the mail becomes too much to take.

Kingsley, of course, is perfect. The subtleties of his facial expressions when presented with moments of joy and frustration are masterfully restrained. This is his best performance of his illustrious career.

When Kingsley and Connelly finally clash, halfway through the movie, the movie, having until then been a paean to silence and unspoken loyalties, becomes a terrifying thriller, riveting everyone with whom I saw the picture. Perelman moves from a mood piece to a suspenseful drama effortlessly. A jaw-dropping conclusion completes a powerful, unbelievably sad piece of work.

After a couple years of not finding a movie that stirred me, this is it, what we all look for in movies -- a harrowing story, beautifully filmed, cathartic and elegant. Joy is very difficult to spot in the film, but "House of Sand and Fog" provides the joy we get when being moved to powerful emotions by a wonderful symphony.

My best film of 2003 -- unquestionably 10/10.

179 of 213 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
100 things you learnt from House of sand and fog nebblu
Miscasting is the real tragedy here barneyljc
Behrani's deal makes no sense to me s144700
after the movie you feel heaviness in the soul ki_to86
AHH! This movie was so great, but the music ruined everything for me!!! vinceejaxeen
One thing that is not in dispute is Kingley's performance taptoe
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