In the mid 19th century Emily Dickinson (Nixon) leaves Mount Holyoke Female Seminary and returns to her family home in Amherst. There she lives a quiet life with her lawyer father (Carradine), mother (Bacon) and younger sister (Ehle). She communicates with acquaintances through correspondence and becomes ever more reclusive. She submits poems to local papers, but very few are actually published before her premature death in 1886.
Nixon gives the performance of her career in this affecting exploration of the elusive poet. Davies’ formal direction stresses the quotidian detail of her cloistered life, but the screenplay lets her words soar through a soundtrack of poetry (read by Nixon) that echoes the emotions on screen. Davies and Nixon capture the spirit of an artist both hemmed in and freed by circumstance and the times. Here’s one movie to get passionate about.