Brazilian director Andrucha Waddington's House of Sand is 'œa woman's picture set in a masculine—indeed, a heroic—landscape,' said James Bowman in The New York Sun. In its opening scene, the landscape dwarfs the people struggling across the wild and desolate sands of Maranhao state in Brazil's equatorial north. The year is 1910, and the little band of travelers has come more than 2,000 miles by foot and donkey. But while the men have come as a result of restless ambition, the women have come because they had no choice. The party's leader, Vasco de Sa, has dragged his unwilling and pregnant wife, Aurea, and her mother, Donna Maria, to this 'œgodforsaken place,' and then returns, quite literally, to dust himself. The women soldier on in this unforgiving world, said Carina Chocano in the Los Angeles Times. Aurea longs to go back to the city she left, but must wait until her daughter, Maria, is old enough. Dona Maria gradually accepts her new home, where she eventually dies. The 'œvisually lush' film is 'œessentially a story of things not happening,' as well as a moving study in what happens to women subjected to overwhelmingly larger forces. It's also an ideal showcase for Fernanda Torres and her real-life mother, Fernanda Montenegro, who play Aurea and Dona Maria, said Andrew O'Hehir in Salon.com. Their riveting performances alone 'œmay be more than enough reason for its existence.'
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