The House of Sand and Fog
The tragic story of the fourth little pig, whose house didn't even get to be tested by the Big Bad Wolf, since high tide intervened.
I missed the first few minutes of this due to temporal inattention, but the story is pretty simple. It's one of those juggernaut of fate stories where due to irresponsibility, stubbornness, self-righteousness and/or willful deafness, everything manages to turn out for the worst. The fundamental lesson is that when the tax office sends you mail you really ought to open it. The juggernaut of fate crushes all before it. Sometimes juggernaut of fate stories can be good:
Oedipus Rex, Romeo and Juliet, Tess of the d'Urbervilles
. On the other hand, you also wind up with
Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl
, where you are supposed to weep with the tragedy of it all and instead you want to knock some sense into people's heads with a ballpeen hammer.
This is in the middle of the pack of JoF stories; not quite as good as The Widow of St. Pierre
(where the characters were intelligent, passionate and sympathetic), but well above Xiu Xiu
, where people were going out of their way to be miserable. The Story: Jennifer Connelly loses her house because she stops opening her mail, Ben Kingley's Iranian Colonel buys it at auction so he can sell it at a much higher price and support his family, Jennifer Connelly thinks the house is still rightfully hers since the county sold it in error, nobody wants to give, Connelly finds a hot-headed cop full of testosterone, and things get worse and worse until the credits roll.
The woman who plays the Colonel's wife is quite good and deserves her Oscar nomination. Connelly and Kingsley's characters are unlikeable until a near tragedy forces them to look at each other as a bit more than enemies. This shows the Colonel at his best; at his worst, he is violent, stubborn and arrogant. The story as a whole would have worked well on stage, but is too stagy on the screen. The plot contrivances stand out too much, and I began looking for that ballpeen hammer.