A Quiet Passion

The story of American poet Emily Dickinson from her early days as a young schoolgirl to her later years as a reclusive, unrecognized artist.


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  • ★★★★ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd

    less a biopic than it is an Emily Dickinson simulator. Cynthia Nixon drops hyper-eloquent diss bombs so furiously that Whit Stillman will soil himself when he sees this.

    pour one out for the good folks at Music Box, who are heroes for taking this on, and will likely lose every cent they paid for the pleasure.

  • ★★★★ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd

    ***this is a profile piece i wrote about Terence Davies for the release of A QUIET PASSION***

    Terence Davies is at once both monolithic and anonymous. A critically revered British filmmaker whose work has yet to catch on with general audiences (perhaps, in part, because his films are so crushingly intimate that it almost feels inappropriate to watch them in public), he’s seldom recognized on the street, and sometimes that might be for the best.

    “The other day I was feeling low,” he said, “and I just thought: ‘Why am I making films that, like, three people or a dog go and see?’ I know this is feeble, but it really is killing when someone says ‘What do you do?’ ‘Oh, I make films.’ ‘Well, would I have seen some of them? Would I have heard of you?’ And I say: ‘Well, probably not.’”

    Of course, some of our greatest artists are tremendously under-appreciated in their own time, though they may be the only ones who understand just how much that can sting.


  • ★★★★½ review by Melissa Tamminga on Letterboxd

    Somehow, Mr. Davies, impossibly, within the constructed theatricality-- as Dickinson, within the strict confines of those hymn meters-- 

    "You don't demonstrate: you reveal."

  • ★★★★ review by Sam Van Hallgren on Letterboxd

    Extraordinary. A sustained aesthetic miracle of a movie. All the awards for Cynthia Nixon. It's a master class. Most stars of biopics get credit for pulling off uncanny impersonations; Nixon here makes you believe that you are actually witnessing one of the most brilliant, singular and eccentric minds of the 19th century. Advantage Nixon.

    Future biopic makers, take note: avoid cliches of the genre by confining your action to a single location.

    Still trying to figure out how Davies pulls off his magic trick of pairing theatricality (the dialogue particularly) and emotional specificity. You could watch the first ten minutes of this film and write it off as a hammy, overwritten costume drama. You would be mistaken.

  • ★★★★½ review by Raul Marques on Letterboxd

    A 'Love & Friendship' + 'Silence' mashup in form of an Emily Dickinson biopic. Almost evenly split between the breezy highbrow-banter-driven first half, that really causes the non-existence of podcasts in the mid-to-late 1800's to be sorrowfully lamented, because the three leading ladies would absolutely kill at that, and a near hermetically dower and emphatically ecclesiastic second part. One could say all the characters talk like they're inside a writer's head, but, yeah, that's kind of the point and it's also an incredibly smart, witty and insightful writer. It's hard not to manifest preference for one of them, but they're both extraordinarily directed and even more remarkably shot, with the shifts in tone being delicately pronounced by distinct visual identities. Nixon is indeed magnificent in utterly complex main role, however Catherine Bailey Tom-Bennett-steals every scene she's in.

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