House of Sand And Fog Rating: NNNN
Here's a movie almost as good as the book it's based on, Andre Dubus's stirring psychological study of good intentions gone awry. Jennifer Connelly plays Kathy Nicolo, a bitter recovering alcoholic whose house is unjustly taken from her and sold at auction. Proud retired Iranian Colonel Behrani (Ben Kingsley) sees her bungalow as the answer to his prayers - he'll buy it cheap, then sell it for enough to restore his family's former glory. Beyond the strong performances, notably by Kingsley and Connelly, finally living up to her Oscar, and Shoreh Ahgdashloo as the colonel's troubled wife, the movie's strength lies in newcomer Vadim Perelman's assured direction. He's savvy enough to stick close to the source and resist voice-overs, understanding that a story this powerful tells itself.