House of Sand and Fog

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Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 184 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: A gripping exploration of the American Dream gone awry, House of Sand and Fog is the story of two people driven to desperate measures to claim ownership of a house. (DreamWorks Pictures)

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    100
    As reversible misunderstandings grow into irreversible tragedy, it slowly dawns on you that this is a superior, heartbreaking film.
  2. The movie's intense watchability can be traced directly to superb performances by Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley.
  3. 88
    A grim, challenging movie that will amply reward audiences willing to go along with its ride into the dark depths of its characters' souls.
  4. There is both a sense of disappointment and relief when House of Sand and Fog crosses over into improbability, when the viewer can sit back, breathe easy again. All this trouble over the failure to open an envelope.
  5. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    70
    Though the film is somber, it certainly commands one's attention, and for a while one's respect.
  6. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    60
    There's a desperately inevitable, powerfully tragic last reel, but getting there is absolute torture.
  7. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    30
    This is a movie that sends you out shuddering, chuckling nervously, wanting to tell the people in line for the next show, "It's the feel-bad movie of the year!"

See all 41 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 51 out of 60
  2. Negative: 8 out of 60
  1. Nov 17, 2012
    10
    The film has a brilliant urgency to it. It is also unrelenting and unmerciful. House of Sand and Fog isn't a blow to the head, it's a blow toThe film has a brilliant urgency to it. It is also unrelenting and unmerciful. House of Sand and Fog isn't a blow to the head, it's a blow to the soul. Expand
  2. DeWayneP.
    Oct 12, 2005
    10
    Brilliant! Films just don't get better than this.
  3. RitaP.
    Jan 24, 2006
    10
    Not often I consider a film a perfect 10 but there is no other score for a film of this quality.
  4. May 16, 2012
    8
    Throughout this movie, the talented Vadim Perelman uses beautiful cinematographic moments to enhance the already heavy melodrama that isThroughout this movie, the talented Vadim Perelman uses beautiful cinematographic moments to enhance the already heavy melodrama that is 'House of Sand and Fog'. There are no better words to describe the genre of this movie than tragedy, and that's why so, so many of the reviews use it. It was exactly that, a tragedy. The talented Ben Kingsley was certainly a good choice to play the lead role here; no one can play foreign characters with as much attention to details, deliver high emotion with as much reserve as Kingsley. My last review (You Kill Me) where he was mentioned happens to have referred to this movie 'House of Sandâ Expand
  5. Jul 16, 2013
    8
    Its not exactly an uplifting film, but with Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly's absolutely masterful performances, James Horner's mesmerizingIts not exactly an uplifting film, but with Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly's absolutely masterful performances, James Horner's mesmerizing score, Roger Deakins perfect cinematography, and an overall sense of thematic majesty, "House Of Sand And Fog" makes for an almost unforgivably indelible film. Expand
  6. Jun 24, 2015
    7
    Dark and moody thanks to brilliant cinematography from Roger Deakins and a great score from the late James Horner, House of Sand and Fog is aDark and moody thanks to brilliant cinematography from Roger Deakins and a great score from the late James Horner, House of Sand and Fog is a pretty good film all-around that manages to be quite thrilling and entertaining given the subject matter. Thanks to the eerie mood set by Deakins and Horner, the threat of something bad coming around the corner is ever present throughout and, again, Deakins' cinematography is great, exemplified by the shots of fog consuming the home. Man is this thing gorgeous. The acting, in particular from Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley, is really good. The direction is solid and the film is pretty well-written. By the end, it is tough to decide who all to feel bad for, but one thing is certain; everybody loses. Nobody wins in this film and everybody winds up losing quite big. On the negative here, House of Sand and Fog does feature some unnecessary plot points that could have been cut and left the film pretty much unchanged, in particular certain concerns held by some characters that just never come up again and seem to dissipate amongst the larger concerns that arise. Yet, overall, House of Sand and Fog is a good film that features some powerful performances set along a beautiful backdrop in a film that is entirely heartbreaking. Expand
  7. Aug 14, 2013
    5
    This gloomy tale is about ex-addict Kathy (Connelly) being evicted from her house and Colonel Behrani (Kingsley), a refugee forced to leaveThis gloomy tale is about ex-addict Kathy (Connelly) being evicted from her house and Colonel Behrani (Kingsley), a refugee forced to leave Iran with his family due to the fall of the Shah. Behrani buys the house in a desperate attempt to redress is financial situation, thus starting an escalating fight with Kathy.

    Behrani is a stoic man, burdened with an impractical wife and a couple of children who are eating up all his income. The man works two jobs, while his family seems blissfully unaware of what is going on.
    Kathy is introduced while on the phone, lying to her family. The camera shows a dirty house and unopened letters on the floor. Not the sort of introduction to elicit sympathy.

    Enraged by being evicted from her house (because she was too lazy to open her mail), Kathy hires a lawyer and proceeds to manipulate Lester, a married cop, into doing some dirty work for her.Like most addicts, Kathy seems incapable to take responsibilities. Throughout the movie she is constantly blaming someone else or on the verge of drowning in self-pity.

    The only thing Kathy and Behrani have in common is that they both lie to their families. They both are slightly unsympathetic, but the antipathy award goes to Lester, the policeman who embarks in the extramarital affair with Kathy, dumps wife and kids and starts threating Behrani until the bitter end.

    I read the novel and liked the fact that the writer did not take sides. You really get the idea that two wrongs do not make one right. However, the movie failed to produce the same effect. Kathy comes across as the wrong one, the pushy, needy, weak, spoiled woman with a passive-aggressive attitude who can only manipulate or cry her way through life. Therefore, I found the movie disappointing.
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