As a writer of semi-historical novels, it is fun to see a period piece. I used to be a Civil War reenactor and seeing the costumes brings back memories. I was able to use my love of costuming and knowledge of Victorian etiquette when writing The Memory Thief series, my steampunk novel. When I am writing neo-Victorian or alternate history, it’s so useful to immerse myself in that world. The problem is, so many pieces that explore the era in film are written with a modern and American lens. We expect people to behave with the social correctness of our era and for women to behave as they would today. This movie blends the social mores of a past era with the true story of an uppity woman who was outspoken in her time and how this isolated her from people around her. It is a realistic portrayal of Emily Dickinson and her world.
A Quiet Passion is a quiet, literary film fictionalizing a biography of Emily Dickinson’s life. People who are drawn to the internal conflict and character development of literary fiction are more likely to enjoy this story. I can see how this would be a must watch for poetry fans and Emily Dickinson’s fans. This movie isn’t for someone wanting to watch a movie with explosions and robots, heroes saving the universe against galactic evil, or happy endings. It doesn’t sensationalize Emily Dickinson’s love affairs or titillate with forbidden romance. It is quiet, subtle and sad like Emily Dickinson’s poetry.
That being said, I can always find things in a movie or plot to critique. Although the performance given by Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City) as Emily Dickinson was well-delivered, I don’t think she could compensate for some of the stilted dialogue as well as Jennifer Ehle did. I wasn’t convinced by the writing to have sympathy for Emily’s growing rudeness, and multiple scenes of prolonged seizures were difficult to watch. But that was probably the point: not to candy-coat Emily Dickinson’s life with a sappy Hollywood ending. I can see this art house film working for independent film fans and Emily Dickinson fans alike.
Here are some reasons I think someone might enjoy A Quiet Passion:
The story of an independent woman following her dream in a time this was unheard of.
A chance to hear Emily Dickinson’s poetry recited.
A chance to see Jennifer Ehle in something historical after Pride in Prejudice.
Witty banter between Emily and other characters.
Historical eye candy: costumes, hair, architecture and furnishings of the Victorian era.
People often consider Emily Dickenson’s writing to be morbid and wonder why she has an infatuation with death. The movie puts her writing in a historical context.
There were several well-done time lapse transitions with photographs.
The hilarious moment when she confronts an editor who changed her commas and semi-colons. It was like a private joke for any writer in the audience.
Historical accuracy and authenticity of the era. The movie was true to the Zeitgeist of early Victorian America and Emily Dickinson’s work.
It was easy to connect to a writer’s plight for wanting recognition.
This movie opens at the Broadway Metro Theatre in Eugene, OR on Friday May 26th 2017. There are multiple show times and dates over the following seven days to see the film. If you are interested in winning a pair of tickets to see this film, answer one of the questions below and send it to me using the contact form on my website. I will post the best descriptions/explanations on my blog:
Why do you love Emily Dickinson?
What is it about the literary-historical genre that excites you?
Go to this page to send your responses:
UPDATE: ALL TICKETS HAVE BEEN GIVEN AWAY! You are welcome to submit reasons you enjoy Emily Dickinson or the literary-historical genre, but I don’t have any more tickets to give to people.