Circe by Madeline Miller (♦♦♦♦)

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Granddaughter of Oceanus, daughter of Titan Helios and sea nymph Perseid, Circe was different from the start. While her siblings discovered their unique gifts very early on and gained their independence—either by claiming their inheritance, like Perses and Aëstes, or by marriage to a wealthy demigod, like Pasiphäe—, Circe remained among her family in the halls of the gods. Her love for young fisherman Glaucus changed everything. Circe used a potion to transform Glaucus into a worthy suitor. Glaucus, seeing his station changed, fell in love with one Circe’s cousins, a sea nymph named Scylla. Out of jealousy, Circe put a potion on Scylla’s bath and, unintendedly, transformed her into a monster. Circe’s confession forced Helios to go to see Zeus, for witchcraft is something that gods fear can tip the balance of power. Zeus declared an eternal banishment for Circe from the halls of the gods to the island of Aiaia.

Exile was not easy but, as Circe learned, it had its advantages; being away f…

A Separation (♦♦♦)

An Iranian woman wants to separate from her husband of 14 years. Her reason is that she wants to leave Iran for good and only has 40 days left in her permit to do so. Her husband doesn’t want to leave Iran because his father, with whom they live, is ill with Alzheimer’s. The husband doesn’t want their 11 year-old daughter to leave with her mother. When the wife leaves home and moves to her mother’s house, her husband employs a pregnant woman to take care of his ill father while he works, but events spiral out of control when the woman loses her baby after an argument with him.

At the heart of this movie are issues of family trust, personal integrity, honesty and eternal damnation. Is a child’s safety worth 15 millions in whichever currency happens to be? And more importantly, is that money worth eternal damnation?

This film won several awards at film festivals around the globe this past award season, though as well acted as it is, the story didn’t resonate with me. I watched In the Land of Blood and Honey written and directed by Angelina Jolie and though I chose not to review it, I thought it was far more accomplished a film than A Separation, which won the Oscar this year in the Best Foreign Film category.

In essence, this film has too much screaming and not enough substance.

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