The story concerns the battle between a young woman and an immigrant Iranian family over the ownership of a house in Northern California, which ultimately leads to the destruction of five lives. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Actor (Ben Kingsley), Best Supporting Actress (Shohreh Aghdashloo), and Best Original Score (James Horner).
Abandoned by her husband, recovering drug addict Kathy Nicolo, living alone in a small house near the San Francisco Bay Area, ignores eviction notices erroneously sent to her for nonpayment of business taxes. Assuming the misunderstanding was cleared up, she is surprised when Sheriff's Deputy Lester Burdon arrives to forcibly evict her. Telling Kathy that her home is to be auctioned off, Lester feels sympathy for her, helps her move out, and advises her to seek legal assistance to regain her house.
Former Imperial Iranian Army colonel Massoud Behrani, who fled his homeland with his family, now lives in the Bay Area working multiple menial jobs. Living beyond his means, he maintains the façade of a respectable businessman so as not to shame his wife Nadereh, son Esmail, and daughter Soraya. He buys Kathy's house for a quarter of its actual value, intending to improve and sell it. Kathy is evicted from the motel she is staying in. With nowhere else to go, she spends the night in her car. Seeing the renovations and how the Behranis have settled in makes her determined to get her house back and she finds an attorney, Connie Walsh, who assures her that because of the county's mistake, they will return Massoud's money and restore the house to her.
Massoud, having already spent money on improving the house, is unwilling to accept anything less than the higher value of the property, which the county refuses to pay. Connie advises Kathy that her only option is now to sue the county, though it will take months. Kathy tries to convince Massoud to sell back the house; he too advises her to sue the county and promises to sell her the house back if she comes up with the money, but she retaliates by beginning to harass him and his family in front of potential buyers. Desperate for help, Kathy falls easily into an affair with Lester, who abandons his wife and children and fashions himself as Kathy's protector. Under a pseudonym, Lester threatens to have Massoud and his family deported if he refuses to sell the house back to the county. Aware that Lester was acting on Kathy's behalf, Massoud reports this to Internal Affairs, who severely reprimand Lester, and furiously warns Kathy to leave his family alone. Kathy calls her brother Frank for help, but cannot bring herself to admit that she is homeless.
Despondent, Kathy becomes drunk and attempts suicide in the driveway with Lester's sidearm. Massoud finds Kathy drunkenly unable to discharge the gun, and brings her inside. Kathy tries to kill herself again with pills, but Nadereh saves her. As she and her husband carry Kathy to the bedroom, Lester breaks in and sees Kathy unconscious. In a xenophobic rage, Lester locks the Behranis in their own bathroom, refusing to let them out until Massoud agrees to relinquish the house. Massoud offers to sell the house and will give Kathy the money in exchange for her putting the house in his name. Lester takes Massoud to the county office to finalize the transaction.
Massoud begs God to save his son but Esmail does not survive. Believing they have nothing left to live for, Massoud kills Nadereh by lacing her tea with pills. He then dons his old military uniform, tapes a plastic dust cover over his head, and asphyxiates himself while clutching his wife's hand. Kathy discovers the couple and frantically attempts to resuscitate Massoud but she is too late. As the bodies of Massoud and Nadereh are taken away by paramedics, a policeman asks Kathy if the house is hers. After a long pause, she admits that it is not.
In desperation, Kathy goes to the house and attempts to commit suicide twice, first trying to shoot herself and then overdosing on pills. The Behranis manage to stop her both times and she is put in a bedroom to rest. Lester breaks into the house and locks the Behranis in their bathroom at gunpoint until they agree to return the house to Kathy. When Lester takes the Behranis to the county office, Behrani's son, Esmail, retrieves the gun and is shot by authorities. When Behrani finds out in the hospital that his son has died, he is overcome with grief and rage at both Lester and Kathy. He returns to the house to find Kathy still there and attempts to strangle her. Believing Kathy to be dead, he dons his Army uniform and suffocates both himself and his wife, who had been asleep in the bedroom.
The story is simply told. Kathy Nicolo (Jennifer Connelly), a recovering alcoholic, has been living alone since her husband walked out eight months ago. She has fallen behind on the taxes for her modest split-level home that has a view, however distant, of the California shore. She neglects warnings from the county, the house is put up for auction, and it is purchased by Massoud Amir Behrani (Ben Kingsley), an Iranian immigrant who was a colonel in the Shah's air force but now works two jobs to support his family, and dreams that this house is the first step in rebuilding the lives of his wife and son.
Kathy has memories, too. The house was left to her and her brother when their father died. The brother lives in the East, sometimes lends her money, is not sure he believes she is clean and sober. She hasn't had a drink in three years, but is depressed by the departure of her husband, has started smoking again, has needed this shock to blast her out of her lethargy. After she is evicted, she drives past her house in disbelief, seeing this foreigner with his family and his furniture, and one night she sleeps in her car, right outside the gate.
Both of these people desperately need this house. Both have a moral claim to it. Neither can afford to let go of it. Yes, Kathy should have opened her mail and paid her taxes. Yes, perhaps, Massoud should agree with Kathy's public defender (Frances Fisher) and sell the house back for what he paid. But we know, from looking into his books (where every Snickers bar is accounted for) that he is almost broke. This is his last chance to keep up appearances for his wife and son, and to look substantial in the eyes of his daughter's new Iranian husband and in-laws.
Not much is said about Massoud Amir Behrani's background in Iran; he has nightmares, he lived in a bad time, but now has pulled back to the simplest things: to find a house for his wife and a wife for his son. Kingsley is such an unbending actor when he needs to be, has such reserves of dignity, that when the deputy attempts to intimidate him with the uniform and the badge, Massoud stands his ground and says, \"I don't know who you think you're talking to,\" and we see at once that he is the man and the deputy is the boy.
As for Kathy, misfortune and injury follow her. Even new love is bad luck. There are scenes involving her being taken back into her old house. And a crisis when the Behranis, whose family is threatened by this woman, simplify everything with one simple sentence: \"We have a guest in the house.\" And a subtle subtext in the way Nadi Behrani (Shohreh Aghdashloo), Massoud's wife, treats the sad girl as a mother would, while hardly understanding a word she says.
Following the breakup of her marriage, Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) retreats to her house -- the house her father left her and her brother in his will. She has retreated so completely that she has not read her mail, which included an erroneous notice of an overdue tax bill. Because she did not respond, the county evicts her and auctions the house for a fraction of its value. The buyer is an immigrant, an Iranian colonel named Behrani (Ben Kingsley), who has spent almost all of his savings to maintain a lifestyle that enabled his daughter to marry well. For him, buying the house will make it possible for him to quit his construction job. He plans to sell the house at a profit to start his return to a position consistent with his education and ability. For Kathy and Behrani the fight is not about money; it is about home. The house is a refuge. It is a part of them. Kathy feels safe inside the house. Once she leaves, she begins to unravel. Kathy must return to the house to be healed. But she cannot do that without destroying the lives of other people.
Pride, anger, loss, desperation, law, love, strength, and weakness collide to create vast tragedy in this contemplative story of a battle for a house that overlooks the water. The lives of Kathy and Behrani circle, parallel, and intersect each other. Both must take on menial jobs and change their clothes in public bathrooms. Both are too proud to tell their families the truth about their situations. Behrani's devotion to his children parallels Kathy's loss of her father and the house he left to her when he died, as well as her own longing for a child. The Behrani family alternately treats Kathy as an intruder, a guest, and ultimately almost as a member of the family when they take her in at her most devastated and care for her as though she was a child. She wakes up the next morning in the house, swathed in silks like an Arabian nights princess. But the fairy tale becomes a nightmare.
An emotionally broken young girl, Kathy Nicolo (Jennifer Connelly), is taken aback when she is evicted from her own house. Matters get worse when her house is wrongfully auctioned off to a former Imperial Iranian Army colonel, Massoud Amir Behrani (Ben Kingsley). Kathy makes multiple failed attempts to get Behrani to relinquish the house.
Irish writer Rooney has made a trans-Atlantic splash since publishing her first novel, Conversations With Friends, in 2017. Her second has already won the Costa Novel Award, among other honors, since it was published in Ireland and Britain last year. In outline it's a simple story, but Rooney tells it with bravura intelligence, wit, and delicacy. Connell Waldron and Marianne Sheridan are classmates in the small Irish town of Carricklea, where his mother works for her family as a cleaner. It's 2011, after the financial crisis, which hovers around the edges of the book like a ghost. Connell is popular in school, good at soccer, and nice; Marianne is strange and friendless. They're the smartest kids in their class, and they forge an intimacy when Connell picks his mother up from Marianne's house. Soon they're having sex, but Connell doesn't want anyone to know and Marianne doesn't mind; either she really doesn't care, or it's all she thinks she deserves. Or both. Though one time when she's forced into a social situation with some of their classmates, she briefly fantasizes about what would happen if she revealed their connection: \"How much terrifying and bewildering status would accrue to her in this one moment, how destabilising it would be, how destructive.\" When they both move to Dublin for Trinity College, their positions are swapped: Marianne now seems electric and in-demand while Connell feels adrift in this unfamiliar environment. Rooney's genius lies in her ability to track her characters' subtle shifts in power, both within themselves and in relation to each other, and the ways they do and don't know each other; they both feel most like themselves when they're together, but they still have disastrous failures of communication. \"Sorry about last night,\" Marianne says to Connell in February 2012. Then Rooney elaborates: \"She tries to pronounce this in a way that communicates several things: apology, painful embarrassment, some additional pained embarrassment that serves to ironise and dilute the painful kind, a sense that she knows she will be forgiven or is already, a desire not to 'make a big deal.' \" Then: \"Forget about it, he says.\" Rooney precisely articulates everything that's going on below the surface; there's humor and insight here as well as the pleasure of getting to know two prickly, complicated people as they try to figure out who they are and who they want to become. 59ce067264