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Quiet Passion, A


Stars: Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle, Keith Carradine, Duncan Duff, Catherine Bailey, Jodhi May, Joanna Bacon, Emma Bell, Annette Badland

Director: Terence Davies

Despite Nixon's magnificent performance, Davies' biography of the increasingly reclusive 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson is often bloodless, dreary snd claustrophobic. Time and again, though., it is illuminated by Nixon's skilful acting in the central role, by Dickinson's own poetry and an incisive screenplay by Davies himself.

It's in the progress of the story that the film falters, slow in the telling, despite cutting huge swathes in time.

Ruled by a rigid father (Carradine), the rebellious Emily (played by Bell when younger), who refuses to conform to the family's adherence to religion, finds solace in her poetry despite advancing ill-health.

Nixon is a little old for the early adult scenes involving Emily, but remains an actress you can't look away from. Ehle is also good as her devoted, if less talented younger sister Vinnie, but supporting acting is somewhat variable, with Bailey the pick as Emily's forthright and younger friend, whose defection to marriage deals the poetess a mortal blow. And, if the film is uneven, the iconic Dickinson's work, of which we hear a fair chunk, remains sublime.

David Quinlan

Belgium/UK/USA 2016. UK Distributor: Soda. Colour (unspecified).
126 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 03 Apr 2017