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  • by Wes Singleton

A Quiet Passion, B


Rated PG-13, 125 minutes

The great American poet is finally given some poetic justice in the slow-moving but lyrical and well-acted new biographical drama "A Quiet Passion," which explores Dickinson's life and work. Directed and written by British filmmaker Terence Davies, much like Dickinson's work, it's not for everyone, but can certainly be appreciated.

Emily Dickinson (Cynthia Nixon) maintains close ties with her family (including Keith Carradine, Duncan Duff and Jennifer Ehle) while becoming a prolific poet whose work becomes recognized after her death in 1886.

On the surface, the handsome drama "A Quiet Passion" seems another stolid period piece, but this one is set in the States, and the subject is an eccentric but now beloved poet, whose unusual style and verse reflected an unusual, yet strong, opinionated woman, superbly played by "Sex and the City's" Emmy-winner Nixon, in one of her best roles to date, capturing Dickinson's peculiar but affecting presence.

It's also nice seeing Carradine as her equally opinionated father, and it's no surprise the two disagreed strongly on a variety of subjects, but the film also shows their love for each other and how he helped her to become a published author. Davies' skilled direction and script brings out strong performances from all; slow-moving and talky, "A Quiet Passion" isn't for those who enjoy lots of action, but Davies still packs in quite a bit.

The sets (some filmed in a replicated Dickinson house), costumes and dialogue of the time fill it with an air of authenticity, and Dickinson aficionados will likely most appreciate it. It also has some moments of nice humor too, though I wonder how authentic that aspect of it it.

There's an air of sadness with "A Quiet Passion," given that Dickinson died reclusive and unrecognized, though with the help of her family and friends, she became publicized and highly regarded. Take the time to see the touching, satisfying and superbly-acted indie drama "A Quiet Passion" to appreciate Dickinson more.

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