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House Of Sand And Fog review

Sombre and stern, Vadim Perelman's feature debut explores the dark side of the American dream as two sympathetic figures clash over ownership of a house.

The property in question is a bungalow in northern California. It belongs to Kathy (Jennifer Connelly), a recovering addict, and to Massoud Amir Behrani (Ben Kingsley), a former Iranian colonel, now reduced to menial work. She was wrongfully evicted; he bought the house at auction. Both have a legal stake; neither will compromise.

From this intriguing starting point, Perelman fashions a compelling, if self-important, study of crushing loneliness, desolated dreams and clashing cultures. Kingsley is magnificent, burning with a pride that refuses to be extinguished, while Connelly can click into `solemn, damaged' mode at will. Less successful is the po-faced tone and pedestrian, even ponderous, pacing. You can almost feel ad helmer Perelman straining to do justice to Andre Dubus III's eulogised bestseller.

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