The House of Sand

If one of the reasons you watch movies is to be transported to places you’ve never been, then you’ll want to see The House of Sand, a Brazilian film set in a remote area of that nation where sand dunes dominate the landscape. That landscape is a principal character in this story of three generations of women who first attempt to escape that harsh place, then struggle to adapt to the remote environment when leaving proves impossible. Director Andrucha Waddington is painting on a big canvas here, a vast vista of space and a lengthy span of time. The story begins in 1910 and ends in the 1970s. The cinematography is stunning, but the performances by Fernanda Montenegro and her real-life daughter alone are worth the price of the rental. Montenegro has one of the most compellingly interesting faces in contemporary film, and those who saw her in Central Station a few years ago will want to see her again in this tale of maternal devotion and the inexorable power of destiny. The House of Sand is the equal to 2000’s You Me Them, another film by Waddington about a strong female character contending with a harsh environment.