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Far From Heaven /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert, Patricia Clarkson, Viola Davis

Directed by: Todd Haynes 

Produced by: Jody Patton, Christine Vachon, Pamela Koffler 

Written by: Todd Haynes 

Distributed By: Focus Features


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Movie Image
Movie Image

     Far From Heaven is a great look at filmmakers from the fifties, as well as life as a whole in the time period. I, for one, was not raised back then, and have never had such an intrepid walk through daily life. Sure, I’ve seen episodes of “The Brady Bunch” and other films like this one, but to my knowledge, this was the most accurate work made to the era, both physically and emotionally, so far. Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid help the film tremendously as well, because of their noteworthy performances. Everything is immaculately done to perfection, which makes every element purely authentic, and grasps what the screenplay sets out to do. We get a clear explanation on what life was like for other cultures and ethnic groups, besides the normal, straight, Caucasian male. I do think that there is some extent of an underlying meaning that the writer/director Todd Haynes is trying to tell us through the picture, though. Judging by how the dialogue is brought about, I think that he is trying to say that homosexuals were treated no different than black people in the 1950’s. He is also trying to say that they are treated even worse than African Americans now in today’s society, and that they are just normal people that aren’t giving a chance. I have not yet seeked conformation that Haynes is in fact homosexual, but by his cover, it is a strong assumption.

     The story opens up to the perfect fifties woman. She has two children, a loving husband, and a very organized living space. An elderly woman is interviewing her for a newspaper because of her astonishing charisma with the press, though she is not famous. She is perfect, happy, and seemingly infallible in every action that she makes. But, as time moves on, she begins to see her husband less frequently. He is coming home from work much later than usual, and has the kids and her suspicious. One night, she decides to take his plate from dinner downtown to him at his office, because she is expecting he needs it with all of the hard work he has been doing. She opens his door to his office, and something very surprising happens. When fully open, she finds him fully embraced in love with another man. Could her perfect life soon be coming to an end? If anyone was to find out that her otherwise perfect husband was homosexual, than her social life would most definitely come crumbling down. She tries to take him to treatment, but it doesn’t work. Everything has gone wrong, but things begin to go unbelievably worse after this. A black man appears in the family’s yard one day. He informs them that he is the son of their old gardener who had recently passed away. He will be taking over for his father. She doesn’t take this to be a big even, and is glad to hand the yard over to him, but yet again, something goes wrong. She begins to fall for this man – and what’s worse, he is Negro and she is Caucasian. She is beginning to not even want to live at all, and as the title suggests, her life is Far From Heaven.

     Julianne Moore should win an Oscar. No matter what the role, she has always been superb. She was able to create suspense when playing the underrated Clarice Starling, in the overrated Hannibal. When playing the character Wavey, in The Shipping News, she was able to master true art. I expect her to be fabulous in the upcoming The Hours, which looks intriguing, judging by the trailers. Her character, Catchy Whitaker, in Far From Heaven is the best she has ever done. In the past, Moore has been able to make bad movies good by her performance, but here, she is able to make a good movie fabulous. The tension she creates, after her character sobs, throws tantrums, and worries for a very long time is heart wrenching. Referring to the second paragraph in this review, Kathy Whitaker is the perfect housewife, who is the owner of a perfect life. But this all comes crashing down when she finds that her husband is homosexual. Gays are excepted more and more now, in today’s society, but Moore’s performance makes us think and feel like a person in the fifties. In that time period, these people were treated horrifically bad. At times during this movie we question if homosexuals are doing something entirely wrong, and need medical assistance; exactly how one would feel in that era. I don’t mind gay people, but am not one of them, and the movie even made me feel more controversial towards the topic during its one hour and forty-six minute duration. All of this is made possible by Julianne. Her character is convincing and stirs us in amazement.

     I cannot say that Dennis Quaid is as good as Moore, but he provides strong support and is very believable. His character, however, would be extremely hard to play. He is the convincing Frank Whitaker, the fifties gay man, pretending to be straight. He is a successful business executive, and provides his family with wealth, but not love. We see several shots of him expressing his homosexuality such as the scene where he is discovered making out with another man by his wife, another, in a gay bar, and another, talking on the telephone, next to his partner, to his wife about their marriage and where its heading. He goes to a therapist, but can’t get rid of the disease (it is explained to him that only 5% – 30% actually lose it). Quaid is beautiful and intrepid in his delivery, and is able to walk, look, and think like a persecuted man. There is quite a level of insecurity shown by his character, too. This is something only captured by talent, which we all know he has. Dennis is excellent, and is able to out-due his previous performance this year. Two great performances, by one great guy; Frank Whitaker and Jim Morris are two Academy Award deserving characters, and his performances are deserving as well.

    The colors, lighting, sets, and costumes are superb. They look exactly like a fifties movie, and are beautifully stunning in every move they make. The dark brown backgrounds, mixed with shiny silk clothing, scarves, and coats is tremendously realistic. Everything looks good on the actors and actresses, too. Julianne Moore’s synthetic wig, Dennis Quaids long coat, and the giant, circular glasses and scarves worn by many are all exuberantly flashy, as well. The wardrobe is so authentic and pure that it matches what the different performers would chose to wear, if they were really living back then. The sets are also beautiful to look at. From the amber forests, and dark green hedges to the comforting pubs with colorful jazz music; everything is gorgeously entertaining. One of my favorite scenes took place when Dennis Quaid was in a dimly lit gay bar. He lights up a cigarette, and the flame makes the already stunning look turn ecstatic. This is yet another area that Far From Heaven could win an Oscar for.

     Far From Heaven pushes the limits of the “PG-13” rating, and is not necessarily recommended by me to other teenagers. Luckily the low MPPA rating does not influence its high bucket rating. I am giving it a strong four buckets, which it fully deserves, and suggest that everyone with any type of passion for filmmaking should see it. Dennis Quaid and Julianne Moore give two fabulous leading performances with creative style. The direction is beautifully done and thinks exactly like a fifties movie does. The sets, lighting, and soundtrack are all authentic and beautiful in their own way. This is one of the best movies of the year. Far From Heaven is a success on all theatrical levels, and I sure hope it does well at the box office. It fully deserves all of the money it can make.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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