House of Sand and Fog

Director: Vadim Perelman
Year Released: 2003
Rating: 2.0

A young, trashy house cleaner is kicked out of her house for being irresponsible with it - she's clearly in her thirties but also very immature - and the people that move in are immigrants from Iran who have a past of their own. Kept me going for its first two acts, which convinced me something really surprising was going to happen, then let me down with an over-dramatized and contrived finale (the young man - who plays an integral part - shows an assertiveness that isn't suggested earlier; Ben Kingsley shows a change-of-heart that also not telegraphed), which almost ruins everything. Like with Minghella's Cold Mountain adaptation, I figured the source novel has to be good - it's obviously an allegory for more-or-less recent problems in Iran - and the performances (all of which are excellent) take you over the rough spots. But if there's any blame to assess, it's almost solely with the director, who overemphasizes the symbolic aspects, drags out his narrative and uses every single insert he could find of fog rolling over the San Francisco area.