Belfast Telegraph

A Quiet Passion review: Moody drama is one to savour

 

By Damon Smith

Emily Dickinson (Cynthia Nixon) returns home less than a year into her studies at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary and clashes with her father Edward (Keith Carradine), a prominent politician.

He eventually agrees that Emily can write verse behind closed doors in the dead of night and she is published anonymously in the Springfield Republican.

Supported by her doting sister Lavinia (Jennifer Ehle) and frequently visited by their friend Vryling Buffam (Catherine Bailey), Emily settles into an almost hermetic existence at the family home, where she observes the minutiae of society life.

While her brother Austin (Duncan Duff) embarks on an adulterous affair with Mabel Todd (Noemie Schellens), Emily remains alone and aloof, untouched by Cupid's arrow.

A Quiet Passion is a dense and wordy tribute to a trailblazer at odds with the prevailing moods of the era. Nixon's mannered yet emotionally layered performance is among her best work, embracing all of her subject's foibles and flaws as Emily pours herself on to the page.

Director Terence Davies' film is one to savour.

Four stars

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