Films by Terence Davies tend not to come along very often. He is indisputably one of the great British directors of his era, but he is not one of the most prolific. It is therefore all the more heartening to encounter A Quiet Passion only a few months after his last feature, Sunset Song, was in cinemas.
A Quiet Passion is a biopic of the 19th-century American poet Emily Dickinson. It is an exceptional film with a searing central performance from Cynthia Nixon in a role a long way removed from her Miranda Hobbes in Sex And The City.
As any student who has encountered Dickinson knows, the poet’s life was not outwardly eventful. After a stint at seminary school, she lived at home with her family in Amherst, Massachusetts. She never married. Only a handful of the huge number of poems she wrote were published in her lifetime. Outwardly, she may have seemed prim and self-effacing, but as Davies and Nixon brilliantly show, she was in fact a fiery, passionate figure who questioned every aspect of the patriarchal society in which she lived.
Vancouverites please note A Quiet Passion will be showing at the Vancouver International Film Festival on October 9th.