A Quiet Passion :: Quiet to the Point of Non-Existent…

Cineville - A Quiet Passion

A Quiet Passion was a grave disappointment to me, I'm afraid, precisely because the passion was so quiet as to be pretty much non-existent.

I am a fan of Emily Dickinson. I like her outspokenness, her courage and yes, her passion. There is some of this in the film — in the opening scene at school: "You are alone in your rebellion, Miss Dickinson"; in another scene that also found its way into the trailer, where she openly defies religious authority: "I will not kneel" — but there is not, in my opinion, enough of it.

In actual fact, I found A Quiet Passion something of a trial.

I did not enjoy being immersed in such a repulsively puritanical and humourless milieu. I did not enjoy having to share the crippling loneliness and devastating frustration of the poet.

Cineville - A Quiet Passion


I have no doubt that the film is brilliantly made. It is very painterly, poetic and literate, and never less than convincing. I just found it so painfully slow and I'm afraid to say, dull, that I was rather willing it to end after about an hour.

It's not like I was craving a car chase or anything. I just wanted to share in Emily Dickinson's victories, and they seemed so few and far between. As I say, I'm sure it was an accurate portrayal of her life. I just didn't enjoy it.

And also, the buttons on the nightdress Dickinson wore for the last half-hour of the film brought me out in a rather unpleasant sweat. Fellow koumpounophobes — be warned.


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Cineville - A Quiet Passion


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The Viewing

I'm at the 11:20 showing on a Saturday morning. There aren't very many of us. Fewer than ten. I'm guessing Emily Dickinson isn't that high on people's lists of historical cultural figures they'd like to see in a movie. I'm guessing most people don't know who she was. I studied her at college and used to like her poetry a lot, but even I didn't exactly rush out to catch this film.

This is my first time in Zaal 4 of the FilmHallen and what an absolute scorcher it is. There are only 50 seats (I counted them) but they are superplush and each comes with its own drinks-holder at the end of the arm, a wine bottle-holder down below and a snacking tray for each pair of seats. I'm not a cinema snackman myself ordinarily, but it's definitely a nice thing to have space for stuff, should you require it.

Having said that I'm not a snackman, I must confess that once at the Peckhamplex I did sneak an entire packet of biscuits into my mouth, where I allowed them to melt completely soundlessly.

(I ate them one at a time by the way, if that wasn't clear.)

About the Author

I am Karl Webster. I wrote these words. If you liked them, you'll be overjoyed to know that there are plenty more where they came from. So you should definitely sign up to my newsletter if you haven't already.

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