Cynthia Nixon gives a career-best performance as the legendary 19th Century poet Emily Dickinson in the luminous and intensely moving new film from award-winning British filmmaker Terence Davies.

Director: Terence Davies
Cast: Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle, Keith Carradine
Duration: 125 mins
Country of Origin: United Kingdom

PGMild themes

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A Quiet Passion

“A masterpiece. An exceptional film, with a searing performance from Cynthia Nixon. Outwardly, Dickinson may have seemed prim and self-effacing, but as Davies and Nixon brilliantly show, she was in fact a fiery, passionate figure who questioned every aspect of the patriarchal society in which she lived.”
Geoffrey Macnab, THE INDEPENDENT

“A refreshingly humorous work. Its firecracker dialogue is invigorating; the assured, measured compositions are equally compelling. And in its sensitivity to intersecting conflicts related to womanhood and class, it is quietly masterful.”
Michael Pattison, INDIEWIRE

“Exquisite. Davies’ brings you into Dickinson’s world – interior, exterior – rather than tailoring it to 21st-century expectations.”
Manohla Dargis, THE NEW YORK TIMES

“An absolute drop-dead masterwork. One of the rare movies about a writer that convey the sense that the character, as depicted, is capable of artistic creation at a world-historical height of achievement. No filmmaker can create a convincing portrait of an artist without being an artist of comparable imagination. Davies has been, for thirty years, among the world’s best filmmakers, certainly not as concealed or unheralded in his time as Dickinson was in hers, but not nearly receiving the acclaim or the support that he has deserved. “A Quiet Passion” will take its place as one of his finest creations, as one of the great movies of the time.”
Richard Brody, THE NEW YORKER

“Finds beauty in the little things. Davies’ Dickinson – superbly played by Cynthia Nixon – is a figure trapped by history and circumstance, desperate to find an outlet for the overwhelming emotions surging inside her.”
Andrew Pulver, THE GUARDIAN

“This poised and painterly rendition of the poet Emily Dickinson in youth and later age finds Terence Davies on masterly form. Not only a compelling and finally very affecting portrait of the poet, but another entirely fresh variation on the themes that have preoccupied Davies since his earliest work. There are moments here that are utterly and gloriously Davies: no other filmmaker would have dreamed them up, let alone have executed them with such exquisite delicacy.”
Geoffrey Andrew, SIGHT & SOUND

“Remarkable. Delicate and thoughtful… a film brimming with the quiet passion of the title, with endless wit, wordplay and wry observation hidden under its bonnet. The talk is pointed and careful in a household that savours the power and meaning of words, but it’s as much the imagery that makes this film such a painterly joy. It’s rare to see a film that makes such subtle sense of an artist’s life and mind.”


Cynthia Nixon gives a career-best, tour-de-force performance as the legendary 19th Century poet Emily Dickinson in the luminous and intensely moving new film from award-winning filmmaker Terence Davies (Distant Voices Still Lives, The House of Mirth), named by The Guardian as ‘Britain’s greatest living director’.

Born into privilege in 1830, Emily Dickinson spent most of her life on her parents’ estate in Armherst, Massachusetts. In her youth, the introverted Emily is depicted as a fiercely intelligent young woman who exchanges forthright opinions on life and art – and, more particularly, on the place of women in a patriarchal society.

Emily becomes more and more reclusive as the years pass, gradually withdrawing from society. In her cloistered existence she is consumed by poetry, but the lack of recognition – fewer than a dozen of her nearly 1800 poems were published in her lifetime – and her frustrations regarding gender inequality and creative integrity make for an ever more vociferous dissention…

Gloriously realising Dickinson’s interior world, Davies gives great weight to the role in which her family, and their various bourgeois guests, play in her life. It’s Emily’s encounters with her sister (Pride & Prejudice’s Jennifer Ehle), brother, mother and father (Keith Carradine) that provide the hinge around which the film is structured.

Stunning in both its sumptuous production design and also in the respect and love that it brings to its subject, the seamless manner in which Dickinson’s sharp-sighted verse is integrated into the narrative is one of A QUIET PASSION’s many joys. Davies’ portrait may just be the perfect match of filmmaker, actress and subject.

“Soul of a Poet: Terence Davies’ ‘A Quiet Passion’ explores the world of Emily Dickinson” – Terrence Davies with Film Journal.

Terence Davies on Emily Dickinson and Cynthia Nixon with The Sydney Morning Herald’s Stephanie Bunbury.

“Cynthia Nixon’s ‘Emily Thing'” – The New Yorker.

“A Quiet Passion and the real Emily Dickinson” – Time.

“Terence Davies Under a Bushel” – The New Yorker.

“His Emily Dickinson: The Visual Poetics of Terence Davies’s “A Quiet Passion”” – Kathleen B Jones, Los Angeles Review of Books.

“Emily Dickinson: Her Soul Is Her Own” – Joanna di Mattia, RealTime Australia.

A Quiet Passion