The film is a period drama, not my favourite genre. A biopic, even worse. About the life of Emily Dickinson, a poet! I chuckle to myself, remembering my experience with another poetry film, 'Paterson', a few weeks ago, and readying myself for a lengthy two hours. Within a few minutes the film has me truly chuckling at the snappy performances and witty dialogue firing left and right. The Dickinson family has you engaged from the first moment.
Jennifer Ehle and Duncan Duff play Emily’s siblings Vinnie and Austin, and it is with them that Nixon has some of the most memorable scenes. Especially Ehle, who’s Vinnie plays the perfect counterweight to Nixon’s eccentric Emily. The scenes between these two are gold.
As most biopics I found 'A Quiet Passion' to be checklist-y, jumping from one seemingly important or well-known event to the next. The film doesn’t have as much flow to the narrative as I'd have liked. But the captivating performances more than make up for any shortcomings in that regard. Even the poetry readings Cynthia Nixon does throughout the film in form of a voice-over are interesting and fitting. A stark contrast to what I thought of the same technique used in 'Paterson'. Nixon delivers the prose eloquently, keeping her read truthful, vibrant and engaging.
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