A Quiet Passion
Hot on the heels of British filmmaker and writer Terence Davies’s (Of Time and the City) 2015 release Sunset Song comes this controlled, spirited and refreshingly funny biopic of 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson, with a taut, Oscar-worthy central performance by Cynthia Nixon.
Dickinson’s life – appropriate to her poetry – was one of great interiority: she was born and died in Amherst, Massachusetts, never married and lived a reclusive existence while writing some of the most piercingly beautiful, directly emotional and innovative verse ever published. But while the circumstances of her life tend to suggest her as a quiet and self-effacing soul, Davies works hard to show her as a passionate and conflicted figure who continually questioned the patriarchal society in which she lived.
He explores her interaction with her family and wider community – including her supportive father (Keith Carradine), her confidante sister Lavinia (Jennifer Ehle), the local Reverend (Eric Loren) for whom she forms an important affection and her proto-feminist friend Vryling – alongside the flowering and frustrations of her remarkable work; all documented with insight, intellect and bursts of imagination and humour.