Sophie’s Choice

BETWEEN THE INNOCENT, THE ROMANTIC, THE SENSUAL, AND THE UNTHINKABLE. THERE ARE STILL SOME THINGS WE HAVE YET TO IMAGINE.

Brooklyn, 1947; Southern writer Stingo (Peter MacNicol) moves into a house where he’s drawn into the turbulent lives of his neighbors, including Auschwitz survivor Sophie Zawistowski (Meryl Streep). William Styron’s novel was controversial in its time because focus lies on a death camp survivor who’s not Jewish. That’s an issue most will find beside the point, as we become engrossed in Sophie’s new life in the U.S. together with a mentally unstable lover. The timid writer becomes our representative throughout this tortured triangle; eventually, we learn through flashbacks the full extent of Sophie’s unbearable suffering. Slow and talky but moving, with superior performances by Streep and Kevin Kline; beautiful music score by Marvin Hamlisch.

1982-U.S. 157 min. Color. Produced by Keith Barish, Alan J. Pakula. Written and directed by Alan J. Pakula. Novel: William Styron. Cinematography: Néstor Almendros. Music: Marvin Hamlisch. Cast: Meryl Streep (Zofia ”Sophie” Zawistowski), Kevin Kline (Nathan Landau), Peter MacNicol (Stingo), Rita Karin, Stephen D. Newman, Josh Mostel. Narrated by Josef Sommer.

Trivia: Styron allegedly always pictured Ursula Andress as Sophie.

Oscar: Best Actress (Streep). Golden Globe: Best Actress (Streep).

Last word: “Every day [Streep would] come home from the shoot, and she’d spend like an hour or two playing with me and my acting brother [Adrian Kalitka]. It was just playing together – sometimes in the hotel, sometimes just around town in the playground – and getting to know each other so I trusted her. I felt safe with her. I apparently told my real mother that Meryl Streep is a nicer mother than she is. That didn’t go over really well with my real mom.” (Jennifer Lawn Lejeune on playing Streep’s daughter, Entertainment Weekly)

 

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