Aroview: The reclusive 19th Century poet Emily Dickinson is the worthy subject of this quietly mesmerising biopic, a stand-out in the career of director Terence Davies.
Cynthia Nixon is brilliant in the lead role, conveying the complexities of a character filled with sharp intellectual vigor and wonder at the beauty of life, but who descends gradually into a deep melancholy and self-imposed isolation. The script unflinchingly portrays Dickinson’s profound misery in the face of sickness and death, utilising lines from Dickinson’s most deeply pessimistic poems about mortality.
Though less hard-hitting as a critique of gender-based oppression compared with Davies’ HOUSE OF MIRTH, this is still at heart a film about the fate of a breathtakingly talented and capable woman at the hands of 19th century social and religious conservatism, who remained tragically unknown and barely published until after her death.
“Possesses a poetic sensibility perfectly suited to its subject and a deep, idiosyncratic intuition about what might have made Emily Dickinson tick.”
~A. O. SCOTT, THE NEW YORK TIMES