Celebrating a great poet whose life was marked by loneliness, Terence Davies turns his expressive eye to the reclusive Emily Dickinson in A Quiet Passion.
Led by a towering performance by Cynthia Nixon as well as a great supporting turn by Jennifer Ehle as Dickinson’s sister, Davies’ film celebrates the triumph of an uncompromising, fiercely independent artist navigating – or straightforwardly rejecting – the roles and responsibilities that nineteenth century New England society seeks to place upon her.
At the same time, A Quiet Passion explores both the triumph and the cost that artistic expression imposes on those that seek it.
Tracing Dickinson’s life from childhood to old age in wealthy Massachusetts, A Quiet Passion sees Terence Davies return to the territory he explored in The House of Mirth, his painterly frames and elliptical narrative elevating both Dickinson’s story and her work.
Largely unrecognised in her own lifetime but now lauded as one of America’s finest poets, Davies’ film deftly explores Dickinson’s battle to assert herself in an environment where men make the rules, drawing out moments of bleak comedy whilst revealing the pathos of a life lived as a genius in a world in which one is not understood.
This film is screening at Tyneside Cinema as a part of our season Living as Poetry: A Tribute to Terence Davies which you can learn more about here!