I know what you’re thinking, not the least of which because I’m thinking it too: what happened to the fog? Well, yes, there was a house of sand and fog, but these filmmakers got the humidity levels right, so the fog dissipated. Err… or something like that.
Pedro Almodóvar’s fanciful Volver.
Aurea (Torres, above) and her mother Maria (Montenegro) arrive in a caravan at a small, dusty town where her fanatical husband Jose Vasco (Ruy Guerra) has determined that they will plunk down and establish roots, starting a farm. Aurea is desperate to return to the city, but cannot traverse the dunes alone with aging mother and unborn child. When calamity strikes and the women are left alone, Aurea bears a daughter in the house of sand, and many years go by. As her makeshift house becomes slowly buried by the windswept sand, Aurea (now played by Montenegro) finds a certain peace in the desert, while her headstrong daughter Maria (that would be Torres again, playing her own offspring) has inherited her mother’s lust for life beyond the dunes. Will there be a compromise or reconciliation, or will mother and daughter be torn apart by their ever-widening differences?
This unusual conceit from Waddington (Me You Them) is nicely captured by screenwriter Elena Soarez, and the director gets the most out of his leads — women he obviously knows very well. Cinematographer Ricardo Della Rosa, meanwhile, shoots gorgeous and evocative frames; if you’re simply dizzy for landscape films like The English Patient, Badlands, Days of Heaven, et al, you owe it to yourself to check this movie out.
The House of Sand is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, in a solid transfer that preserves the aspect ratio of the movie’s original theatrical exhibition. Colors are steadfast if obviously sun-worn, grain is virtually nonexistent, and there are no problems with artifacting or edge bleeding. The film’s Portuguese language Dolby digital 5.1 sound mix is solid, and optional English, French and Portuguese subtitles provide a variety of read-along options. The disc’s sole supplemental feature is a superb making-of documentary, which clocks in at more than 50 minutes. Since so many foreign language titles get the shaft in their American DVD releases, particularly in regards to behind-the-scenes material or filmmaker interviews, it’s heartening to see this piece, which includes interviews with all the principal players, on screen and behind the camera. B+ (Movie) B (Disc)