Sometimes when you are so linked with an iconic role/series it is hard for an actor/actress to break out of it. The actresses from the beloved Sex in the City have all to differing degrees been victims of just that. In 2016 Cynthia Nixon freed the shackles of Miranda Hobbes in one fell swoop with her portrayal of Emily Dickinson in Terence Davies’ (The House of Mirth, The Deep Blue Sea) A Quiet Passion. A combination of Nixon’s measured portrayal of the writer and Davies’ in depth depiction of her life and loves really furnishes us with a clearer picture of the woman.
The film is really a series of snippets showing you different points in the life of the poet. All coming together to give us a fuller picture of the woman behind the words. It is a tragedy that author Emily Dickinson only came to fame after her death. She deserved to feel the recognition she gets now. She is shown to have been from an early age a woman who knew what she wanted, could do and set about doing just that despite any protests or roadblocks. A side of the woman I knew nothing about. Plus her relationships with members of her family and how important they were to her.
Growing up in a Puritan Massachusetts town, Emily was very close to her family. She rarely left the family home. Visitors seldom came over. Some might even describe her as lonely and secretive. No matter what was going on in her life, Emily always put aside a few hours in the early morning to do her writing. As she aged she isolated herself more and more. The only people she tolerated were her father (Keith Carradine – from television’s Madam Secretary), her brother Austin (Duncan Duff – appeared in episodes of The Tudors and Doctor Who) and her younger sister Lavinia (Jennifer Ehle – Zero Dark Thirty, Vox Lux).
I warn though that this is a typical British biopic in that it moves rather slowly or languishly. There is no “action” rather everything moves along at a rather even pace. Some might find it boring as a result.
Emily Dickson is depicted through different stages of her life from a young teen to full fledged womanhood. While Emma Bell (from television’s The Walking Dead) does a good job, it is really Cynthia Nixon who stands out. Her performance alone is worth your time and money. Showing that she it was not just a case of perfect casting when she was on Sex in the City, but that she is a true actress capable of bringing to life a myriad of characters.
Another plus is the cinematography. Excellent. Everything is rather natural looking and yet sharp at the same time.
-Q+A Session with Terence Davis and Cynthia Nixon
-Behind the Scenes of A Quiet Passion, Including Interviews with Crew Members
-Collector’s Booklet with Interviews, Photos and a Critical Essay