*** Official "FAR FROM HEAVEN" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by ThomasC, Nov 30, 2002.

  1. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

    Dec 15, 2001
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    Just got back from seeing it, and I'm kind of surprised that I couldn't find a topic about it here.
    It'll take time for me to give my full thoughts on this movie; I'm thinking I'll probably have to see it again to do that. All the actors and actresses gave solid performances; Julianne Moore and Dennis Haybert were a delight to watch. No offense to Dennis Quaid, it was just that his character was...you'll see. [​IMG]
    I can definitely think of two things that I didn't like about the movie:
    1) Elmer Bernstein's invasive score, which seemed too loud and too emotional much of the time, and...
    2) The scene pacing (the times when scenes would switch to another) seemed really off at times.
    Ending on a better note...Julianne Moore and the cinematography looked fantastic.
    I'll give it 2.5/4 for now.
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    Real Name:
    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Far From Heaven". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.
  3. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

    Jun 28, 2000
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    In the first shot of Far From Heaven a painting of autumnal branches fades into its live action counterpart. The moment is representative of the surface-level simplicity of 1950s life, which director Todd Haynes examines as a prison for inner-longing. Patterned on the events and ideals of Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows (1955), and other mid-century melodramas, the movie addresses what Sirk could only hint at: culturally illicit desire in an era that isn’t prided on tolerance. Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore) lives a picture perfect suburban life as a mother and housewife until her husband Frank (Dennis Quaid) begins acting on gay impulses, and she develops a romantic interest in her black gardener Raymond (Dennis Haysbert). In its sheer technical prowess, few movies are this achingly beautiful. But Haynes wants us to look past surface-facades, while neglecting to ensure that anything’s occurring underneath them. Though visually ambitious, even after a second viewing the approach left me feeling empty and unconcerned. There’s a precision in Haynes staging of his Technicolor set-pieces that transcends campiness into the tonal realm of the films that inspired it. Moore and Quaid also do an admirable job of maintaining masks of composure against their doubt and torment. But the 50s critique isn’t as novel as it seems to think it is (this territory’s already been covered in pictures as diverse as Blue Velvet and Pleasantville). Once Frank is made aware of his homosexuality, his character is shuffled out of the way, while the relationship between Cathy and Raymond is comprised mainly of idle gossip from Cathy’s friends. This approach--using 50s pop-ideology as an excuse to point at big issues from safe distances-–makes Far From Heaven genteel art-house fodder at its most dishonest. Its forgiving p.c. stance toward its characters’ passions is also anachronistic of the antiquated film-world it inhabits. By retaining empathy toward their plights, Far From Heaven strives to evoke the spirit of 1950's mass entertainment through 21st century liberalism. It’s self-defeating.
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    Note: I apologize if I give too much away in this review, so read with caution...

    I finally got to see this film. As the title of the film aptly describes, the societal/emotional/physical roller coaster ride of a film is "far from heaven" as it looks at the breakdown of a "normal" family from the late 1950's, and delves into the major taboos of the day: homosexuality and inter-racial relationships It is from the perspective of the 1950's sense of morals where contemporarily speaking, many of us today who accept either "taboo" as simply as people being people, find happiness where you can, but it's quite astonishing that many of the pronouncements made by characters in the film are due simply the film being a cinematic snapshot of the times. "It's just the way things were at that time" before people found the courage to change the minds of others as time marches on.

    Upon reflection, it's amazing how much has changed in the expression of either of these taboo subjects, and how these difficult issues barely raise the societal outrage today as they did in the 1950's. But within the 1950's framework, it was not considered politically incorrect to express displeasure at inter-racial relationships or get a handle on a husbands's homosexuality. For the main character, Cathy, it is used to put her so very "far from heaven" and for Frank (Cathy's husband), his gradual acceptance of his homosexuality uproots his perfect family life in the 1950's, also very conceivably "far from heaven" in some respect.

    Julianne Moore delivers another very good performance, she anchors the film (because she's in pretty much the entire film, around 90% of the scenes or more) as Cathy. It's very easy to be empathetic with Cathy's plight in the film. The only criticism I would make is that Cathy is almost too progressive in her thinking, what made her so willing to engage into something that could only end with tragic undertones given the societal climate. Was the risk worth the reward?

    Dennis Quaid does a lot with the little he's given in the film. He's able to convey the inner turmoil as Frank, the husband struggling with his homosexual tendencies.

    Dennis Haysbert is also very good as the kindly gardner Raymond that Cathy strikes up a friendship with, and also tempts fate by bucking the societal norms of the day.

    The direction is also very good and so is the production values (it's a visual treat to see such vivid colors of the 1950's where we of today thinking of in black-n-white terms due to the TV programming also in black-n-white).

    The film isn't about battles being won or lost (w/r/t the taboos), but it's about picking up the pieces, how we grow from the fallout as people and as a society as time marches on, and people's thinking on such matters change slowly but surely.

    I give it 3 stars, or a grade of B.
  5. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

    Nov 5, 1998
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    Just a copy of my post in the 2002 films thread
    Far From Heaven 9.5 of 10
    A very strong bit of direction on the part of Todd Haynes that seems highly likely to put him in the hunt for best director. He makes wonderful use of dissolves to keep what could be a much drier film moving at a more lively pace. Julianne Moore is my leading contender for Best Actress as well, very subtle but with a good range. The only problem with the film is that the 2 men in her life, especially Raymond Haysbert (playing Deagan) don't get enough character and come off a bit flat. Oddly Quaid gets a lot more charater traits than Haysbert but his character certainly ends up being less important to Moore's character in a way that would require more depth.
    A front runner for Oscar, but not a top 5 film for me.

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