It is like most Davies's films, styled in the same characteristic manner. Not only is this weird, but they pick the most maudlin occasions for this device. British director Terence Davies both wrote and directed this thuddingly overlong and sleep inducing 'biography' of one of the greatest poets of the 19th century — the inimitable Emily Dickinson. The conversations were so stilted, in an attempt to show wit, or passion I suppose, that they were often incomprehensible. She did not leave any commentaries to interpret her work, but left themfor us to understand and explain.
Irreverent and provocative, Emily, Vinnie, and Vryling areshown walking through the gardens, exchanging witty aphorisms whilethey twirl their parasols, but the element of artifice is overbearing. Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends. Only a few poemswere published in the local paper. Though there aren't many, they do include 'This World is Not Conclusion', which distils her profound sense of the mystery of existence. The description of the film states it is the story of American poet Emily Dickinson from her early days as a young schoolgirl to her later years as a reclusive, unrecognized artist.
Her physical deterioration is, however, really terrifying; I'd even say it's the strongest part of the film. Emily's personal life was portrayed in such a choppy fashion that I had to read later about her life to make sense of it. The film, written and directed by Terence Davies was overly long, slow,and boring, done in a pretentious manner. In one comic scene, she scolds the local newspaper editor for changing her punctuation. Dickinson's life lacks the stuff that might make a substantial movie. Dickinson was a recluse for the later years of her life. Within this template the film is quite successful: the design and the actors, all contribute to something that strives to make a film about an artist.
A moment in whichportraits of the younger Dickinsons morph into their older selves isexquisite and there's another nice one at the end. I'm not even sure I can say I've seen it since me and my girlfriend walked out of the theater 20 minutes in. What were they thinking when they made this! As Aunt Elizabeth, Annette Badland almost steals the show. He is helped in this by hisbrilliant cast. Personally, I think it's a masterpiece. For all of itsfine performances and moments of comic satire, A Quiet Passion isdramatically inert, and its stilted and mannered dialogue is anemotional straitjacket with each character talking to the other as ifthey were reading a book of aphorisms. Dickinson's poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation.
But at the same time, thepoems are a necessary element to understand Dickinson as she was. The actor simply say their lines with little or no emotion, and there is really no point, they just walk around the garden or the camera pans the room while nobody talks. You know that friend who has the ability to suck the fun out of absolutely any situation? This constant need to appear clever and superior to everyone else was grating on the nerves and lost what very little charm it possessed within 5 minutes of exposure to it. All this is subtly shown in the biopic, which follows Dickinson fromher childhood to her death. With a bad script, poor acting, poor Casting. It's just a pity that she's only on for a short time near the beginning. The opera scene was way to long without enough script to justify it being there at all.
Such self-conscious quips are rather distracting, except, I would say, from Dickinson's Aunt Elizabeth. Perhaps this has something to do with his sexuality, perhaps not; perhaps his being a gay man has nothing to do with anything, though one only has to look to Cukor to see a connection. Bright and outgoing as a young woman, Emily isportrayed as becoming more isolated, and bitter as she grows older. For a more detailed biography we may turn to Wikipedia — 'Emily Elizabeth Dickinson December 10, 1830 — May 15, 1886 was an American poet. This movie is slow, dull and stupid, everything that Emily Dickinson wasn't. Sorry to say I almost fell asleep, I think rather than enlightening me about Emily Dickenson, I'll have to go and see what she was really like. Davies sketches Dickinson's life in a series of brush strokes fromrebellious youth to painful death in early middle-age through a seriesof short, sharp conversation scenes, mostly with members of her ownfamily together with readings from her poetry and the detail he packsinto these scenes is extraordinary.
After studying at the Amherst Academy for seven years in her youth, she briefly attended the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary before returning to her family's house in Amherst. There it resembles Bergman too: the self chastising, the self examination, accusation and reproach; the moral duty to become better, and while this may recreate the anxieties of the people involved, it is not accomplished writing. It's like Terence Davies sets out to make movies that will challenge you to stay awake through them. This time his subject is the poet EmilyDickinson and this is easily one of the greatest of all period films. I couldn't wait for this movie to end.
I am surprised Jennifer Ehle agreed to act in this. From what I saw, it looks like the Wikipedia page would be more accurate, too. Thanks Terence and thanks Emily. The overdonemanners of the era are parodied in drawing-room scenes borrowed fromJane Austen and Oscar Wilde, scenes that are pleasingly comic but seemmore than a little contrived. Clearly, sheused her talent not only to write poetry, but also to engage inspirited conversation. For those who love her poetry and her individuality that presaged feminism, this very long and low-keyed lecture will likely infuriate. Expressing this in the film, she displays an unorthodox view of religion which scandalises her family.