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Safe (1995)

 -  Drama  -  30 June 1995 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 6,909 users  
Reviews: 114 user | 86 critic

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

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Biography

Explores the professional and personal life of Peggy Lee whose career spanned nearly seven decades beginning with her first #1 single "Something Else Is Taking Place" in 1942.

Director: Todd Haynes
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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

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

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

Peter Dunning: We are one with the power that created us. We're safe and all is well in our world.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Narc: The Visual Trip (2003) 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

Difficult to pigeonhole but engaging & interesting with a great lead performance despite the problems inherent in Haynes' otherwise engaging delivery
25 February 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Carol White is quite a quiet woman, living in comfort in a lovely house in a quiet corner of California. This quietness starts to take a turn for the worse when a coughing fit starts from being stuck behind a lorry in traffic. This is the first of a series of apparently allergic reactions to something, although the doctors can find nothing wrong with her – with the psychiatrists unable to pinpoint anything either. As the reactions get worse, Carol starts to feel trapped by her own surroundings and begins to believe that her illnesses are being caused by pollutions and chemicals around her in the world.

As Theo has already stated in his review, this is a film that is hard to put in a box but, hoping that it will become a thriller or a "normal" drama will certainly not help you get into it because this is a film that, with the best will in the world, is a strange affair that is deliberately hard to put a finger on. The film opens with a great feel of emptiness and isolation that Haynes creates with clever framing of his shots; this makes the film feel like it is going to be a slowburn horror, but it works better than this because the "horror" is actually just the blandness of Carol's upper-middle-class life. As it develops the film keeps this tone while being deliberately ambiguous about what we are meant to think – is Carol sick in her mind or really as a result of chemicals? Is her retreat really a clean place of healing or is it all expensive new-age mumbo jumbo. The film never really answers these questions and it thus produces a film that engaged me by freeing me up to think for myself and question what I was watching. At times it appeared to be savaging the new-age illnesses of the Californian bored, at others it seemed to be very clear that Carol was sick.

Sadly the downside of this mood of ambiguity and isolation is that the film moves very slowly and doesn't actually deliver any satisfying conclusions. As much as I wanted not to see this as a problem (because I liked the aspects of the film that produced this as a bi-product) it is hard to ignore it although I personally felt there was enough going on from writer and director Haynes to make up for the inherent weakness it caused. It also helps that the wonderful Moore so totally "gets" her character and gives a convincing and engaging performance. She rarely hit a bum note and her performance is another reason that the lack of dramatic direction or action was not a killer problem for me. She easily dominates the film but support is quite good from Berkeley, LeGros, Gilborn and others, although the film was never not Moore's.

Overall this is a film that is very hard to describe because its very aim is to confound the expectations and opinions of the audience, and even then not in a consistent manner (I "bought" some of it and was suspicious of other parts). Director/writer Haynes has done a great job of producing a feel to the whole film that compliments the story and, in turn, he has brought a great performance out of Moore. It is hard to ignore the general problem that the seeming "dull" delivery and lack of narrative punch will produce but I felt that the film had more than enough going for it as a whole to make up for such things.


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