A Quiet Passion (2017)
The brilliant Terence Davies cast —
Cynthia Nixon in —
A Quiet Passion as the great —
The poet’s played by Emma Bell —
In the opening scenes —
Where Emily embraces doubt —
But then — the wonder of the sight —
family portraits change! —
These younger Dickinsons evolve —
To a wiser, troubled age.
And so her life unfolds in all —
Its angst and honesty —
Her faith a discipline of truth —
But do we understand her art —
Through Davies’ haunted lens? –
Are we given the secrets to —
These poems of Dickinson’s?
At times it seems (it’s no surprise) —
That Davies chose this muse —
So he could voice his own complaints —
On church and death — his views.
Nevertheless and insofar —
As he is true to her —
Davis gives us a Dickinson —
Prophetic and mature.
All praise to Nixon, so immersed —
Within the role she took —
She disappears and it is clear —
That she is not a crook!
But seriously, in an ideal world —
The Academy would save —
An Oscar for this actress now —
She earns all praise and raves.
At heart, this film is less about —
The art of poetry —
And more about life lived for truth —
And not mere piety.
This Emily — her soul’s her own —
She will not acquiesce —
To patriarchal arrogance —
Or feign subservience.
And thus, self-righteousness becomes —
A danger to her art —
Thank God for Jennifer Ehle who,
As Vinnie, owns the part.
Dear Vinnie, she’s the sister —
In whom the poet confides —
A voice of conscience she becomes —
Against Emily’s pride.
And so a complex portrait shines
Through Davies’ misty eyes —
A singular biopic, oh! —
A glorious surprise.
Does this stand up with Davies’ best?
Not quite, but close, I’d say —
The Long Day Closes tops the list
On Davies’ résumé.
But yes, A Quiet Passion is —
Better than Sunset Song —
That melodrama’s pathos, well —
It ran a little strong.
So get thee to the theater —
And watch Brave Emily —
By her truth-telling earn the name —
Guardian of the Galaxy!
If I’d have questioned Davies —
On this screenplay, I’d have said —
Why did you give Ma Dickinson _
Lines from Joyce’s “The Dead”?