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Far from Heaven (2002)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  10 January 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 34,902 users   Metascore: 84/100
Reviews: 376 user | 177 critic | 37 from Metacritic.com

In 1950s Connecticut, a housewife faces a marital crisis and mounting racial tensions in the outside world.



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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 88 wins & 78 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Bowman
Bette Henritze ...
Mrs. Leacock
Sarah Deagan
Kyle Timothy Smith ...
Billy Hutchinson (as Kyle Smyth)
Mona Lauder
Olivia Birkelund ...


Cathy is the perfect 50s housewife, living the perfect 50s life: healthy kids, successful husband, social prominence. Then one night she surprises her husband Frank kissing another man, and her tidy world starts spinning out of control. In her confusion and grief, she finds consolation in the friendship of their African-American gardener, Raymond - a socially taboo relationship that leads to the further disintegration of life as she knew it. Despite Cathy and Frank's struggle to keep their marriage afloat, the reality of his homosexuality and her feelings for Raymond open a painful, if more honest, chapter in their lives. Written by Jonas A. Reinartz <jonas.reinartz@web.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What lies beneath the surface? What hides behind the walls? What imprisons desires of the heart? See more »


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexual content, brief violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

10 January 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dem Himmel so fern  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$13,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$211,279 (USA) (8 November 2002)


$74,530 (Hong Kong) (2 May 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Todd Haynes wrote the role of Cathy Whitaker specifically for Julianne Moore. See more »


The date is established as October, 1957, however, there are an awful lot of 1958 cars around. More than would have been on the road so early in the '58 model year. Also: the shot of the quaint town square shows a 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air police car - with all the top trim level chrome clearly evident. Public agencies buy the cheap version, which, in this case, should have been a Del Ray. See more »


Eleanor Fine: Call me old fashioned, I just like all the men I'm around to be all men.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The first end credit reads "for Bompi" See more »


References Written on the Wind (1956) See more »


Eagan's Jukebox
Composed by Max Avery Lichtenstein (as Max Lichtenstein)
Performed by Camphor
Courtesy of Tin Drum Recordings
Published by Departure Music Publishing (ASCAP)
See more »

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User Reviews

Very Close to Heaven
11 January 2003 | by (Delaware, USA) – See all my reviews

Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven, a homage to the 1950s melodramas of Douglas Sirk, is an exquisitely crafted film of beauty and grace. The world that Haynes creates is so meticulously detailed that one almost forgets that the movie isn't fifty years old.

Julianne Moore deserves an Academy Award for her portrayal of Cathy Whitaker, a homemaker whose idyllic life begins to disintegrate when she learns that her husband is gay. Moore's Cathy is a delicate woman who would like to be courageous, but can't be because of the world that she is trapped in. As her innocence begins to die, she realizes how empty and superficial her life is. When she begins a cautious romance with her black gardener (Dennis Haysbert) she begins to see the racism and hypocrisy that forms the underbelly of a seemingly perfect world. At the end of the film Cathy has no illusions, and realizes that the life that she thought was perfect is actually a never-ending hell.

Dennis Quaid is equally stunning as Cathy's tortured husband Frank. After Cathy discovers his homosexuality, the two are forced to grapple with a truth that neither of them can comprehend. Frank goes to a doctor for "treatment," and his confession is heartbreaking. He says that he "can't let this thing, this sickness, destroy my life. I'm going to beat this thing." We look at Frank and pity him because we realize that such a feat is impossible, and unnecessary, but Frank does not possess that knowledge. Frank begins to drink more, and when he finally breaks down and tells Cathy that he has fallen in love with another man, all of the anger, shame, and joy comes pouring out of him all at once. It is a supremely moving moment, and the best performance of Quaid has ever given.

As the marriage between Cathy and Frank begins to unravel, the two also begin to fight. All of Cathy and Frank's arguments and confessions take place at night, bathed in shadows. The truth has no place in this bright, artificial world, and it must stay hidden at all costs. One night, when Frank tries to make love to Cathy and can't, Cathy tries to placate him, saying that he is "all man" to her. At that remark Frank hits her, and for a moment the audience does not breathe. Cathy then asks quietly for her husband to get her some ice. Cathy is all restraints, and it is only with her kind gardener that she has a chance to break free. The scenes between Moore and Haysbert crackle with erotic energy because everything remains unsaid. When Cathy finally asks him to dance with her, it is a moment when we realize what human beings are capable of being together.

The fourth example of stellar acting comes from Patricia Clarkson as Cathy's best friend Eleanor. Eleanor is a bitter, gossipy, cold-hearted woman, and when she tells Cathy "I am your best friend," you want to scream to Cathy not to believe her. Clarkson makes the most of her rather limited screen time, and turns in a fascinatingly layered performance.

Far From Heaven may very well be the best picture of the year. In creating an artificial world, Todd Haynes has managed to lay bare the human soul in a way that has never been done before. It is a moving and important motion picture, populated with some of the most nuanced acting I have ever seen. Cathy and Frank Whitiker may be far from heaven, but the film comes about as close to heaven as is possible.

108 of 127 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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