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Housekeeping (1987)

PG | | Drama | 5 February 1988 (Sweden)
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After their mother commits suicide, two sisters end up living with their kind but peculiar aunt in their grandmother's old house in a small 1950s town.

Director:

Bill Forsyth

Writers:

Marilynne Robinson (novel), Bill Forsyth (screenplay)
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2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Christine Lahti ... Sylvie
Sara Walker ... Ruth
Andrea Burchill Andrea Burchill ... Lucille
Anne Pitoniak Anne Pitoniak ... Aunt Lily
Barbara Reese Barbara Reese ... Aunt Nona
Margot Pinvidic Margot Pinvidic ... Helen
Bill Smillie Bill Smillie ... Sheriff
Wayne Robson ... Principal
Betty Phillips Betty Phillips ... Mrs. Jardine
Karen Elizabeth Austin Karen Elizabeth Austin ... Mrs. Paterson
Dolores Drake ... Mrs. Walker (as Delores Drake)
Georgie Collins Georgie Collins ... Grandmother
Tonya Tanner Tonya Tanner ... Young Ruth
Leah Penny Leah Penny ... Young Lucille
Brian Linds Brian Linds ... Deputy Sheriff
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Storyline

In the Pacific Northwest in 1955, two young sisters, abandoned by their mother, wind up living with their Aunt Sylvie, whose views of the world and its conventions don't quite live up to most people's expectations. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>; edited by Peter Victor

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The story of a woman slightly distracted by the possibilities of life. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 February 1988 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Azo Min Doda See more »

Filming Locations:

British Columbia, Canada See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,083,282
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Rankcolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was greenlit by the then newly appointed Columbia chief, David Puttnam. See more »

Quotes

Fisherman: You come back here! Lady, you come back here! Lady, you come back!
Sylvie: He always does that. If he thinks someone's watching him, he just carries on even more.
Fisherman: Come back here!
Sylvie: Pitiful. He's gonna have a heart attack someday.
Ruth: It must be his boat.
Sylvie: Either that or he's some kind of lunatic. I'm certainly not going back to find out.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"For Marilynne and Fred and their two wonderful boys" See more »


Soundtracks

Starlight Blue
(uncredited)
Music by Alain Leroux
Studio G Ltd
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Housekeeping: A Ghost Story
9 March 2016 | by raymond_chandlerSee all my reviews

Bill Forsyth is a Scottish-born director and writer of great insight with a whimsical view of the world. His movies tend to focus on low-key characters and obscure places rarely seen in filmdom. "Local Hero" is one of my all-time favorites. I now add "Housekeeping" to the list.

The movie is adapted from a novel by Marilynne Robinson. It takes place in the tiny town of Fingerbone, located in the Cascade Mountains of what I assume is Eastern Washington or Idaho, given many references to Spokane and Portland. I have lived in Seattle for many years, and I adore the scenery featured in this movie. One can almost smell the pungent, bracing aroma of decaying logs, fir trees, and smoldering campfires in the outdoor scenes.

Christine Lahti is an actress of rare gifts. Her basic decency and warmth comes through in every film I have seen her in. She plays rootless Sylvie, who comes to be the guardian of two adolescent orphaned nieces, Ruthie and Lucille. The story takes place in the 1950s, and the fashions, cars, and social mores are all dead-on. She and the girls live in a large house on the outskirts of Fingerbone, the same home Sylvie and her deceased sister Helen grew up in. The story explores the relationships of these three women, and the shifting dynamics of those relationships. There is an implied parallel of Ruthie and Lucille with Sylvie and Helen. "Housekeeping" supplies a rich family history for these off-beat characters, and provides a context for their behavior and development.

There are very few men in this film. It is resolutely about the lives of women among other women. The story unfolds over several years, and we see how Lucille (the younger sister) comes to be the responsible one, who yearns to live 'like other people'. Sylvie exists in a dream world, and Ruthie is gradually drawn into that land of longing and detachment. Eccentric is how most people would describe the behavior of Sylvie, but I prefer haunted. Haunted by the lingering presence of dead siblings and parents, haunted by the inability to fit in to modern society, haunted by the endless possibilities of other places and times. To me, "Housekeeping" is a ghost story, but these ghosts yet live.

"She IS sad. I mean, she should be sad."


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