Housekeeping (1987)

Housekeeping (1987)

A drama that captures the restlessness and loneliness of growing up and growing old

7.9

Movie

United States of America
English
Comedy, Drama
1987
BILL FORSYTH
Andrea Burchill, Anne Pitoniak, Betty Phillips
116 min

What it's about

In the Pacific Northwest during the 1950s, two young sisters whose mother has abandoned them wind up living with their Aunt Sylvie, whose views of the world and its conventions don't quite live up to most people's expectations.

The take

Bill Forsyth, an acclaimed Scottish director best known for his films Local Hero and Gregory’s Girl, directs an underrated masterpiece with the 1987 drama Housekeeping. Adapted from Marilynne Robinson’s outstanding novel, Housekeeping is the story of two sisters, Ruthie and Lucille, who are orphaned and raised by their peculiar Aunt Sylvie. 

As the young sisters grow apart, Ruthie gravitates toward her transient aunt. This is a movie about not quite fitting in—about feeling like your life exists just outside of modern time, somewhere off to the side of railroad tracks running over frozen water. Sylvie shows Ruthie that there is more to life than their small, cold town of Fingerbone. In fact, there is a whole world out there, calling to misfits like them.

Housekeeping is deftly directed, balancing both humor and tragedy. Christine Lahti’s performance is also, with no exaggeration, one of the greatest of all times, as she conveys so much of Sylvie’s yearning to go, go, go with as little as a glance toward the beckoning horizon.

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