Discussion of "Safe"

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JohnRice, May 18, 2002.

  1. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    As in, the film with Julianne Moore.

    I just saw this tonight, and I know it is on the favorite list of several other members. I am curious about the interpretations others have of this film.

    After one viewing and not too much thought, it seems like Carol (Moore) is making herself "allergic" to life itself. It seems as though by the end of the film she has just about completely crawled inside herself trying to avoid exposure to anything else. Of course, the more she avoids what she thinks is making her sick, the sicker she gets.

    Anyone else?
     
  2. Luc D

    Luc D Second Unit

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    I haven't seen it in a while, but it looks like you basically nailed it. Great film, the ultimate post-modern plight! I'll have to watch it again sometime soon.
     
  3. Luc D

    Luc D Second Unit

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    As you can plainly see John, Safe is a very popular film. [​IMG]
     
  4. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Yes,

    The response is overwhelming.
     
  5. MichaelAW

    MichaelAW Second Unit

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    Actually, Safe is a phenominal film, definitely one of the best of the 90s.
    However, I haven't seen it in about five years, and thusly can't really participate in a discussion. Sorry. [​IMG]
     
  6. MartinTeller

    MartinTeller Screenwriter

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    Her sickness is due to her empty and phony lifestyle. The solutions that she finds are even emptier and phonier (new agey support groups, psychobabble, blaming "chemicals"). Her utter lack of a personality or identity makes her unable to combat the emptiness that is slowly consuming her. When she says "I love you" to her reflection at the end, it's loaded with meaning. One could say she sounds hesitant, as if trying to convince herself that there's something worth loving. Or one could say it's her final, and perhaps only, defense against the disease. Or you could say that she is speaking TO the disease. She loves the disease for giving her life drama and purpose and comraderie (though those things are, in her case, empty as well).

    I love the very slow pacing of the film, the blur between the real and the surreal, and especially Moore's spell-binding performance. Her birthday speech is just incredible to watch ("reading labels... or going into buildings...").
     
  7. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    Safe inspires in me the same feelings of terror as if I was watching a great horror film. We are witness to the total destruction and subjugation of a human being. Even worse, she has become a willing participant in her own enslavement because her life has proved so completely empty she can see no other option but the dissolution of self into a collective.

    I am filled with pity for her husband and son, she is lost, and they don't have any idea how to reach her. The husband doesn't see the pain and dissatisfaction. Why shouldn't she be happy with the affluence he has provided? Could it be because the biggest decision she has to make all day is the color of a couch? Have we created a society that serves to emasculate us with comforts?

    The film works on many levels. You can even take Moore's problems completely serious. As in: In addition to nuclear weapons, terrorism, Holocausts, etc, have we now evolved to the point where even our most benign creations can cause us harm. Is Man's capacity for self-destruction so great that we seek to poison ourselves, even sub-consciously?

    There's the cult angle, the relationship between husband and wife, nurturing behavior, enabling, suburbanism, money buying happiness, the quick fix, pseudo-science/medicine... One could literally write a book about the ideas presented in this film.
     
  8. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Thanks guys. I sure like good ambiguous film.

    I like the idea that she is expecting others to give her life fulfillment. She never really takes the burdon of this on herself, but always seeks the quick, easy "magic pill" answer from others.
     
  9. Darren H

    Darren H Second Unit

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    Thanks for the reminder, John. I really need to pick up this DVD. I've only seen Safe once and probably haven't given it the thought that it deserves, but I remember feeling as though I was finally watching the "Woman's film" that I'd always hoped Kubrick would make. Safe has the austere style (and the wonderful tracking shots) of the best Kubrick films, which force us to keep some distance from the characters. It might be fair to say that we observe Moore's character rather than identify with her, which changes our function somewhat. We're encouraged to study her, diagnose her problems, and (hopefully) suggest some form of a cure.

    I'm surprised that Rich hasn't stepped into this thread yet. I know that it was one of his favorites of the '90s.
     
  10. Pascal A

    Pascal A Second Unit

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    What especially drew me to [Safe] was the film's pervasive sense of profound alienation. It was not so much that she was running away from her family or that she was drawn to other like minded people in the commune, but that in the end, she ended up retreating further into her own literal cocoon – the only place where she is truly safe, but at what cost?
    FWIW, [Safe] was my #6 film for the 1990s - a very intelligent and provocative film.
     
  11. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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  12. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Maybe this is part of the reason there is such disagreement on this film. We are so often asked to sympathize with the characters, it becomes expected. I really felt no sympathy for the main character. I felt more like I was watching a case study. I also think the phenomena shown in the film is much more common than any of us would think. It's just that most people who withdraw from the real world don't do it in such an obvious way.
     
  13. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    [Safe] is a highly rewarding film both in content and in form. In addition to the comments already mentioned, one of the emotions that the film delivers is the sense of frustration in the part of the husband and those who are unable to comprehend the condition that Carol is going through.
    The film deals with a lot of issues not to mention individualism and a sense of emptiness. By all means this is not a film for everyone. But those willing to give it a chance will find it very provocative and highly engrossing. At least, I did.
    ~Edwin
     
  14. PatrickL

    PatrickL Second Unit

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    One of the things I liked about "Safe" was the irony that Carol is a blank initially - she barely seems present, she isn't connected to herself much less the world around her - until she becomes sick. Her illness, whether real or imagined, gives her some way to try to shape her identity.

    I always loved the first half of the movie, but it took me three times to appreciate the second half and what it identifies in our culture about some of our popular belief systems. One of the messages I get from the movie now is a cautionary warning that it is dangerous to look inward to solve every problem, and that pursuing control other everything that one feels is the most unsafe state of all, because it's inhuman.
     
  15. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Does anyone suppose that their blind tolerance toward her condition is actually destructive, as opposed to a tougher approach, which might have gotten her out of her ultimately self destructive path?

    Patrick, I sure see why you recommended this film to me. First, Carol strongly reminds me of someone I know, which I know is why you recommended it. A person as a "blank" trying with futility to create an identity, the pursuit of absolute control, the fear and illness that result, and as Edwin said, the struggle for the people around. It all makes quite a point. In many ways, this is one of the most real films I have seen.
     
  16. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Interesting conversation. I watched [Safe] about four or five years ago and found it intriguing but not especially memorable. Guess I need to rewatch it...
     
  17. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    I always think of Safe whenever I get behind a big truck spewing noxious fumes. I used to drive with my vent on and the windows down to save gas unless it was stifling, but now I just leave the a/c on all the time.
     

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