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Safe (1995)

R  |   |  Drama  |  30 June 1995 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 7,014 users  
Reviews: 114 user | 86 critic

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

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Title: Safe (1995)

Safe (1995) on IMDb 7.1/10

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9 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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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

Filming occurred right after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake which heavily damaged large parts of Los Angeles. The threat of aftershocks and damage to filming locations (such as the community center used for the Wrenwood scenes) kept the production team jittery. See more »

Quotes

Carol White: [about her declining health] I'm sorry. I know it's not normal but I can't help it.
See more »


Soundtracks

Slow Water
Performed by Brian Eno and Robert Fripp (uncredited)
Written by Brian Eno
Published by EG Music c/o BMG Songs, Inc., ASCAP
Courtesy of Virgin EG Records Ltd./Caroline Records Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

Safe as Suburban Horror
25 June 2004 | by (Yolo County CA, USA) – See all my reviews

Todd Haynes's modern melodrama, Safe (1995), has proven to be quite a controversial film for debate amongst film critics. Those who enjoyed the film defended it as an excellent critique on the twentieth century while others claimed it to be slow and boring. Although, as the study of film progresses Safe is being viewed under a differently light and becoming more accepted amongst American movie goers, developing what looks like the beginnings of a cult following. I would side with those who agree that the film is an excellent critique of the twentieth century although that is not my focus of analysis for this commentary.

The real focus of analysis involves one extremely short scene: where Carol White comes home and stares at the new furniture after it has been brought into the house a second time, which was about half way through the film. The mise-en-scene in this short five to ten second shot is extraordinary in its capture of the mood or in Carol White's case the sickness behind suburban life.

The new couch alone was the most powerful aspect of mise-en-scene. There it was, black in color, square in shape, perfectly spaced between the walls and lamps. The couch is empty and unused yet filling in space and suburban peace of mind. It is the focus of the entire shot, forcing the audience to stare on waiting for a reaction, some kind of acknowledgment from Carol White. The couch, to me, has essentially become a reflection of Carol White, fitting since her name is just as blank and lifeless as the couch.

I also thought the lighting of the room was crucial in creating the setting for the couch. The low key lighting of the enclosed room shuts out all life, helping to create that dead environment which Carol White cannot seem to escape. The darker scene really blurs the edges of the couch and the corners of the walls, forming a cave like design. This particular aspect of light really adds to the frighteningly scary mood which is most commonly felt and scene by audience members, but never really thought about or understood.

Sound and lack of it really set the tone for hidden narratives of suburban horror. The beginning of the short scene depicts Carol White walking in the darkened room to see the new couch, and only her light footsteps are heard. After this there is complete silence for at least five to ten seconds. Since the scene did not have any muffled background sounds I found it to be quite useful in describing the silence in which Carol White lives her life. Even the furniture is louder than she.

The style of mise-en-scene in this scene is quite evident throughout the rest of the film, and really shows its importance as a tool in every cinematic genre. A film such as Safe demands attention to detail and a unique style when it comes to mise-en-scene. One should always take the time to stop and enjoy the symbols, messages, and hidden narratives behind mise-en-scene.


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