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Safe (1995)

 -  Drama  -  30 June 1995 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 6,217 users  
Reviews: 109 user | 68 critic

An affluent and unexceptional homemaker in the suburbs develops multiple chemical sensitivity.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Greg White
...
Mover
Julie Burgess ...
Aerobics Instructor
Ronnie Farer ...
Barbara
...
Anita
...
Linda
Martha Velez ...
Fulvia (as Martha Velez-Johnson)
...
Rory
Saachiko ...
Dry Cleaners Manager
Tim Gardner ...
Department Store Dispatcher
Wendy Haynes ...
Waitress
...
Client (as Alan Wasserman)
...
Client's Wife (as Jean Pflieger)
...
Dr. Hubbard
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Storyline

"Safe" has been described as a horror movie of the soul, a description that director Todd Haynes relishes. California housewife Carol White seems to have it all in life: a wealthy husband, a beautiful house, servants, beauty, and a lot of friends. The only thing she lacks is a strong personality: Carol seems timid and empty during all of her interactions with the world around her. At the beginning of the film, one would consider her to be more safe in life than just about anyone. That doesn't turn out to be the case. Starting with headaches and leading to a grandmal seizure, Carol becomes more and more sick, claiming that she's become sensitive to the common toxins in today's world: exhaust, fumes, aerosol spray, etc. She pulls back from the sexual advances of her husband and spends her nights alone by the TV or wandering around the outside of her well-protected home like an animal in a cage. Her physician examines her and can find nothing wrong. An allergist finds that she has an ... Written by David Eschatfische <esch@fische.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

In the 21st century nobody will be...Safe.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a sex scene and brief language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

30 June 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Chemical Syndrome  »

Box Office

Gross:

$512,245 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the shot of the White family photos, real pictures of Julianne Moore from childhood and high school were used. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Carol White: I love you. I love you. I really love you. I love you.
See more »

Connections

Features Good Morning America (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

Lucky Star
Performed by Madonna
Written by Madonna (as Madonna Ciccone)
Published by WB Music Corp. obo Itself, Webo Girl Publishing Inc. & Bleu Disque Music Co.,
Inc., ASCAP
Courtesy of Sire Records
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Gripping - with a masterful performance from Julianne Moore
24 June 2003 | by (England) – See all my reviews

'Safe' is enigmatic, anxious, bewildering and captivating. It will divide viewers, but I argue that this is the hallmark of all true art. You will either love it or hate it, you will either get it or you won't. But it won't leave you indifferent.

Julianne Moore plays Carol White, the film's childlike protagonist with a phenomenal skill. In the hands of a more showy, ostentatious actress, Carol's 'illness' could have appeared trivial, her character, flighty, whiny and irritating. In the hands of Julianne Moore who is, in my opinion, the most intelligent, thoughtful and captivating actress working today, Carol's predicament is moving amd her character endearing. Her performance truly is astonishing. Never does she feel the need to overact, to emphasise Carol's confusion or her fear. She plays her with a childlike acceptance, a surface simplicity and a sing-songy girlish voice, and she is a master of restraint, implication, understatement. I have yet to see a more impressive performance from an actress whose skill lies in making it appear like she is doing very little, when really there is a huge amount going on underneath the surface. The film would be worth it for Julianne Moore alone, but it also has other things to reccommend it.

There's the excellent direction from the genius, Todd Haynes. His mainstream hit, the wonderful homage to Sirk 'Far From Heaven' catapulted Haynes into the mainstream, but I find this work even more affecting. Haynes is a genius at utilising the mise-en-scene for the maximum effect. He uses his camera as a painter would with colour - each shot is masterfully composed, with the director never allowing us to get too close to Julianne Moore's character, making her predicament all the more confusing and alienating. This is a film which demands thought and concentration, and what you take from it will depend upon individual disposition and experience.

The dialogue is generally sparse and quite functional, meaning that emphasis is placed onto the menacing soundtrack (giving the film a horror/thriller feel), the meticulously orchestrated mise-en-scene and, of course, the amazing nuances and depth of Julianne Moore's artistic gifts. In terms of what the film is trying to say, there is a real sense of satire in the second section of the film (When Carol goes to the commune to be 'cured') but there is no insistence upon one single message. This is reflected with a deeply ambiguous ending which leaves one feeling anxious and confused.

Overall, 'Safe' is a masterful piece of work. The team of Julianne Moore and Todd Haynes is (as we have seen with 'Far From Heaven') a match made ... in heaven. I would urge those who appreciate non maintream, thought provoking and unconventional films to give it try, just don't go in with 'Hollywood' expectations as you will be disappointed. Finally, I'd like to end by reiterating what is possibly the film's main strength - the presence of Julianne Moore. This truly is a captivating performance from her, and certainly one of the most astonishing I am likely ever to see. 'Safe' gives us the chance to watch this gifted actress in one of her most underrated, little seen, yet most remarkable roles.


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