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Swimming in "The House of Sand"

Posted at 6:08 AM on September 8, 2006 by Euan Kerr

There is a beautifully tragic inevitability to "House of Sand" the lyrical drama from Andrucha Waddington. From the stunning opening scenes until the films climax, it's impossible to escape the feeling you know what is likely to happen, but you'll go along for the ride anyway.

"House of Sand" follows the story of Aurea, who arrives in a desert on the edge of the sea in 1910. She's with her husband, who is leading a group of settlers to a better life. But he misjudges his followers and they desert him, leaving him with his wife and her mother Donna Maria. When he dies, Aurea, who is pregnant, begins a struggle to survive, and she hopes escape the sand. It's a tale that spans half a century.

It's a bleakly beautiful film, with emotive performances by daughter and mother team of Fernanda Torres as Aurea, and Fernanda Montenegro as Donna Maria. As the story progresses, and time passes the actors slide down the generations as Montenegro becomes Aurea and Torres plays Aurea's daughter Maria.

This is a film best seen on a big screen. Cinematographer Ricardo Della Rossa captures the the individual emotions of the characters and splays them against the wide horizon of sea and sand.

Director Waddington wrote this script specifically for his Torres his wife, and Montenegra his mother in law. Unlike Hiroshi Teshigahara's "Woman in the Dunes" which also deals with the horrors of being trapped in sand, "House of Sand" is really a story of love and committment to family under difficult circumstances. It's not an easy film, but it's well worth a look.

September 2006
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