A Quiet Passion

Genre:  Drama
Running Time:  125 min.
Release Date:
April 14, 2017 - Toronto - April 14, 2017 - Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Victoria, Halifax
April 28, 2017 - Vancouver
May 5, 2017 - Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Halifax
DVD: July 11, 2017
Blu-ray: July 11, 2017

Current rating: Rating: 2.75
based on 8 votes and 3 reviews
Rate Movie | Read all user reviews

Cast: Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle, Keith Carradine, Catherine Bailey


A biopic of American poet Emily Dickinson (Cynthia Nixon) from her teens through her adult life.

Teenage Emily (Emma Bell) suffers through her time at a Christian boarding school. When she returns home, her father, Edward (Keith Carradine), though stern, welcomes her back and allows the strong-minded girl to stay up until all hours of the morning to write poetry.

Living a somewhat reclusive life at the family home in Amherst, Emily manages to find a new friend, Vryling Buffam (Catherine Bailey). When Vryling marries, leaving Emily alone again, she finds comfort in her doting younger sister, Lavinia (Jennifer Ehle), whose loyalty helps her cope with their condescending brother Austin (Duncan Duff).

However, Emily becomes bitter when she falls for the married Reverend Wadsworth (Eric Loren), who enjoys intellectual chats with the young woman but has no romantic feelings for her. She is further vexed when a vengeful editor refuses to continue to publish her poetry.

Tormented by gender inequality and feelings of insecurity, Emily struggles to find her place in life, finally withdrawing from social life after a crisis of faith.

Director: Terence Davies
Studio: Pacific Northwest Pictures
Producer(s): Roy Boulter, Solon Papadopoulos
Screenplay: Terence Davies

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  • 2 stars "I was so disappointed in this movie and not only because I'm a fierce ED fan and just didn't believe Cynthia Nixon's portrayal. I'm surprised it's gotten such great reviews. The screenplay is terrible. Dickinson's life may have been quiet and appeared uneventful, but this movie has no plot! The first half seemed to be about establishing character and the second half about Dickinson's decline in health and embitterment. The 'witty' banter between the sisters and the mostly fictitious friend was stilted and pointless. Until the half way mark of the film or after, all the dialogue was confusing. Scenes appeared to be isolated from one another, didn't hang together and the pacing was horrible. Too many of Dickinson's poems were crammed in. Nixon's reading of them as a 'soundtrack' was fine, and in some places worked when she spoke them as dialogue, but in many places, not. In the final scene with the casket, several poems were read as though they were one. Dickinson had dozens of 'death poems' and it seemed they wanted to cram as many in as possible. The young cast at the beginning was terrible, but so was the dialogue so it may not have been their fault. Instead of bringing Dickinson to life, this film was like a museum piece. I never once felt I was getting insight into Dickinson or her life. Nixon did an amazing job with what she had to work with and the last half was much more intense and effective than the first. Dickinson's life is admittedly a difficult one to portray. She was an enigma and there's more mystery surrounding her life than clarity. After EDs death, Vinnie destroyed correspondence, poems and papers presumably because they contained personal, perhaps shocking, information. It has been suggested that Dickinson suffered epilepsy, manic depression or sexual abuse, that she was a lesbian, in love with her sister in law, or one of a handful of different men. Read her 'Master Letter"
  • 1 star "Need a reason to go to sleep? Watch this movie"
  • 3 stars "Was disappointed. I usually like period movies, but I found this one long and dragging. The acting wasn't that good and since I don't know the life of Emily Dickinson at all, I was at a loss with the timeline. Events sometimes jumped a few days to a few years without me being able to figure out how old she was as the story unfolded."