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House of Sand and Fog (2003)
Incredible Comment On Cultural Gap In America
First of all, anyone who says that s/he didn't "get the point of this movie" needs to go back to watching movies produced solely by Jerry Brukheimer because the point could not be more apparent to anyone of any intelligence. House of Sand and Fog is a commentary on the cultural gap between American-born citizens and immigrants from war-ridden countries such as Iran. Unfortunately that gap is shown for what it is: wider than ever.
The character of Kathy is portrayed brilliantly by Jennifer Connelly as an emotionally unstable young woman caught up in the turmoil of losing both her husband and her family's home within eight months of each other. Kathy ignorantly fails to realize that the house her dead father has left her brother and her is in jeopardy of being put up for auction due to unpaid taxes. Kathy comprehends, too late, that the thirty years it took her father to pay off their home has been in vain when it is sold to an Iranian family shortly after auction. Her character is pinned against Ben Kingsley's Colonel Behrani when Behrani buys Kathy's auctioned house in order to return his own family to a sense of stability. The audience is conflicted by its empathy for both character's need to satisfy his and her own pride in family and the preservation of his and her heritage.
The catalyst for the two characters' conflict with each other is drawn from the supporting character of Officer Lester (Ron Eldard), a representation of the ignorance and lack of empathy some Americans feel towards people whose lives have led them to seek better ones in the United States. While Behrani's main motive is to protect his family and give it a sense of security, Lester puts his own selfish pleasures before the wellbeing of his own family. Behrani and Lester are complete opposites, Behrani clearly the nobler. It is clear why Kingsley chose to do this role: Kingsley's portrayal of an Iranian refugee is both superb and honest, not to mention Oscar-worthy. The film shows that there are greater sacrifices in this world than those materialistic in nature. Ironically many Americans might find that point hard to absorb, probably the reason why they are so quick to write off House of Sand and Fog as "one of the worst movies" they have ever seen. House of Sand and Fog is a film, not a movie. Those who give this film a thumbs down need to get a dictionary and distinguish the difference between the two terms. Andre Dubus III's novel has been done justice. Thumbs up.