Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2003. DreamWorks, Cobalt Media Group, Bisgrove Entertainment. Screenplay by Vadim Perelman, Shawn Lawrence Otto, based on the novel by Andre Dubus III. Cinematography by Roger Deakins. Produced by Michael London, Vadim Perelman. Music by James Horner. Production Design by Maia Javan. Costume Design by Hala Bahmet. Film Editing by Lisa Zeno Churgin. Academy Awards 2003. Golden Globe Awards 2003. Independent Spirit Awards 2003. National Board of Review Awards 2003. New York Film Critics Awards 2003. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2003.
Following the death of her father, a house cleaner (Jennifer Connelly) is evicted from his house when she ignores her mail for too many months and leaves taxes unpaid. It is immediately bought up at a very cheap price by an Iranian immigrant (Ben Kingsley) who plans on selling it at full value in order to use the money to help support his family. When Connelly learns that her house was actually taken from her because of the city’s own error, she does her best to get it back even though the new family have already moved in. A police officer (Ron Eldard) who has become sexually involved with her decides to step in and help out, going off the deep end and actually terrorizing Kingsley’s family in order to convince them to sell the house back at the price they got it for and let Connelly move back in. This terrific drama features an excellent screenplay and first-rate direction by newcomer Vadim Perelman. The performances are all superb, from the two lead performances as well as a quietly unsettling Eldard and a knockout performance by Shohreh Aghdashloo as Kingsley’s kind and generous wife. The end outcome has a lot to say both about chasing the “American dream” and the reality of racism and attitudes towards foreigners in America. It pushes the limits of contrivance at times, its message hitting a tad bit too hard, but it is still exceptionally well done, highlighted by fantastic photography by Roger Deakins and a terrific, emotional score by James Horner.