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Housekeeping (1987)

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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:

Comedy | 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

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

Ruth: Silvie had no awareness of time. For her, hours and minutes were the names of trains.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Featured in Siskel & Ebert: The Best Films of 1987 (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

High Above Cayugas Water
(uncredited)
Traditional
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User Reviews

A keyhole to look through
22 August 2002 | by David-HMBSee all my reviews

This is a film of a rare, intimate perception that is aimed with pinpoint precision at a few unusual characters and the places they inhabit. At first its subjects seem simple, but like many people do, these characters are merely shielding themselves, hesitant to reveal much of their real natures except as as rare gifts in intimate moments. It must have been tremendously challenging to create and portray natural introverts like these characters, but as an introvert myself (I assert that characteristic without any touch of self-disparagement), I found this story rewardingly resonant of my own experience, especially of childhood memories, although indeed my outward circumstances had little in common with this story.

Almost never has any film conveyed a sense and feeling of a few small places so clearly and so effortlessly. We cherished the village in "Local Hero", but Fingerbone is an incomparably more realistic and deftly drawn place (despite occasional overreaching, e.g., the town's name, and a train accident that stretches credulity in more than one way).

For anyone willing to watch, dusk and the blue pre-dawn illuminate and suffuse these characters' lives. Sylvie sits by herself in the "dark", but there are wonderful secrets to discover in places that seem a void to others. Even well-meaning intrusions, like interruptions to meditation, can seem tragic.

Even more distinctly than Forsyth's other work, this film certainly wouldn't appeal to everyone, but it is a beautiful and evocative character study that has the courage to deal with personalities, events and emotions too obscure or inaccessible for most mainstream filmmakers. Forsyth deserves credit for having gotten this made in the first place, as well as for the eclectic perception that gave the film its many unique and worthwhile qualities.


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