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Far from Heaven
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Far from Heaven More at IMDbPro »

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105 out of 124 people found the following review useful:

Very Close to Heaven

10/10
Author: Josh Hitchens (purple_proze@hotmail.com) from Delaware, USA
11 January 2003

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.

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73 out of 92 people found the following review useful:

a great film in both form and content

Author: Roland E. Zwick (magneteach@aol.com) from United States
10 January 2003

`Far From Heaven' is a total artistic triumph for writer/director Todd Haynes, who has, among other things, provided the most brilliant examination of the codes and values of the 1950's that I have ever seen in a film. His work here turns out to be a uniquely exciting and satisfying blend of form and content. The '50's were, of course, a time when `normality' was the condition most honored and prized in American society. To be just like everyone else was not merely the greatest goal to which one could aspire, but it came to define the very value one had as a human being. And woe to anyone who didn't quite fit into those proscribed limits of `acceptability' - for if one didn't, one had to at least keep up the appearance of respectability and conformity for the benefit of society, even if what went on behind closed doors was something quite different from what people on the outside imagined.

The Whitakers are the model of a perfect '50's family. Frank is a handsome, highly successful businessman with a beautiful, well-respected wife, who divides her time between raising their two children, maintaining their lovely suburban home, and spearheading the requisite number of charities for a woman in her position. In fact, she is such an archetype of the ideal housewife that a local society paper has chosen to feature her as one of their profiles. Cathy's perfect life, however, is quickly shattered when she makes the shocking discovery that the husband she loves so dearly is a closeted homosexual, who obviously married her as a means of hiding the truth from both the world and himself. In true '50's fashion, Frank, when Cathy catches him in the act with another man, decides to seek `treatment' from a therapist, in the vain hope that he will be `cured' of his `problem.' These scenes are a jolting and stark reminder of just how far we've come from the days when this unenlightened viewpoint held sway in society. The film also deals with the issue of racism, when Cathy becomes a confidante and friend of a young black man who works as her gardener. When this relationship is noticed by the townspeople, the ugly realities of bigotry and prejudice come to the fore, proving that, even in a place like Connecticut, where no actual laws segregated blacks from whites, the attitudes of the common citizenry were no more enlightened than those that permeated the Deep South.

In a stroke of genius, Haynes has patterned his film after actual 1950's melodramas, particularly those by director Douglas Sirk, whose movies like `Imitation of Life' and `Magnificent Obsession' provided daring (for the times) studies of social issues like racism and May/December romances within the context of what were, essentially, glossy, visually palatable soap operas. Sirk's films are often honored for their ability to inject subtly subversive sentiments into popular, mainstream entertainments. `Far From Heaven' looks exactly like those films, from the color-splashed autumnal setting to the picture-perfect interiors of an upper-middle class home in suburban New England where familial and personal problems appear as out of place as `Leave it to Beaver' would seem if it were on network TV today. The astounding achievement here is that Haynes is both paying homage to and utterly destroying the period at the same time. He succeeds in immersing the audience for nearly two hours in this amazingly recreated world. We come to feel as trapped in the stifling setting as the characters themselves do. Haynes captures with emotional force the sense of helplessness these characters feel at not being able to `measure up' to the demands of their world and the utter sadness and loneliness caused by the fact that they don't even have anyone they can truly open up to and discuss their problems with, for they become instant candidates for rumor-mongering and societal rejection the moment they do. `Keeping up appearances' becomes the sole consideration in such circumstances, leading many people to lead lives of quiet desperation, hidden behind blandly conformist, upbeat exteriors. In our day and age, when people have gone to the other extreme - pouring out their every twisted idiosyncrasy on daytime TV talk shows for the benefit of a sensation-craving audience - it's important to be reminded of how much worse the alternative can be. If nothing else, `Far From Heaven' is a study of the kind of emotional and psychological damage that can be inflicted on an individual when a society encourages repression and conformity at all costs.

As Cathy, Julianne Moore gives a performance that can be called nothing less than overwhelming. She is utterly heartbreaking as a good-natured woman, totally baffled by the curves life is throwing at her, trying to maintain a façade of normalcy and happiness even though inside her psyche has been inexplicably and irrevocably torn to pieces. She wants desperately to figure out where her husband is coming from, but the distance he keeps putting between himself and her precludes any such understanding. Yet Cathy is also a paradoxical figure in that, even though she is struggling to keep her life and marriage appearing `normal' to the outside world, she is subtly undercutting that goal by challenging the status quo in her relationship with Raymond, the gardener. Her genuine revulsion at the racist attitudes she sees around her compels her to act in a way true to her own convictions. Moore does a perfect job conveying every facet of this richly detailed and complex character. It is certainly award-worthy work from one of our very finest actresses. As Frank, Dennis Quaid, in a controlled, restrained and heart-wrenching performance, captures the sadness of a man who wants desperately to live the life he's chosen but who just can no longer fight against the truth of his own nature. In a way, Cathy and Frank's situations are mirror images of one another. Both discover a `love' on the outside of societal norms, yet, because of the personal pain that that love is inflicting on the other partner in the marriage (his for another man and hers for another man, as well), the two hurting people seem unable to perceive that connection they share. These two fine performers turn what might have been just a cold exercise in style into a deeply moving and profoundly meaningful work

Technically, the film is a masterpiece on every level, from its art direction to its costume design to its cinematography. The veteran composer Elmer Bernstein has provided a richly evocative symphonic score, modeled on actual '50's style soundtracks, that brings out the melodramatic richness of the film's many set pieces. Yet, his work here also has a quieter quality, particularly in the subtle piano riff, which reminds us quite a bit of his classic score for `To Kill a Mockingbird.' As a director, Haynes shows himself in total control of his medium, blending all these elements into a complete and satisfying whole.

`Far From Heaven' is really unlike any movie you have ever seen, a fascinating admixture of the old and the modern. It also happens to be one of the very best films of 2002, a true work of art.

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55 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

Another superb performance from Julianne Moore

Author: (tommyrockt@aol.com) from New York City
13 July 2003

Todd Haynes' achievement in his homage to the films of Douglas Sirk is so complete, and seems so carefree that it is easy to dismiss FAR FROM HEAVEN as a trifle. The look of such ease is deceptive, however. Haynes' accomplishment, that of telling a new story through a loving recreation of the 50's weepy, is visually sumptuous and sweetly moving. The painstaking effort, from the amazingly overblown dialogue (ever so slightly exaggerated from the style of the actual 50's weepy) to the oversaturated colors and evocative score, never strains the film.

In Julianne Moore he finds the perfect heroine. Her performance is so skilled that we don't see her at work. Though nominated, Ms. Moore was sadly overlooked at the 2003 Oscars. Apparently no one could see past Nicole Kidman's prosthetic nose in THE HOURS. (When a beautiful actress plays "ugly" she wins an award. Ms. Kidman's performance in THE HOURS is one of her best in that deeply moving film, but it hardly matches the subtlety and difficulty of Ms. Moore's work in FAR FROM HEAVEN.) With such breathtaking ease that we forget she is acting, Ms. Moore scales the grand challenge of using melodramatic dialogue that verges deliberately on camp to reveal the tenderness and desire of the naive 50's housewife who is the center of FAR FROM HEAVEN. (Watch her face in an early scene where she and the excellent Patricia Clarkson talk with their girlfriends about their respective marriages.)

Credit must be given to Haynes as well, who asks his cast to play it straight. Ms. Moore, who consistently achieves beauty and depth with each performance, brings this tender film to life. She has a fine counterpart in the handsome and Dennis Quaid who has not had such a plumb role since his early days.

Though every film should stand on its own, you should check out the milieu that Todd Haynes is working in – the oeuvre of Douglas Sirk being the main source – but you can also check out earlier films like DARK VICTORY and other domestic dramas.

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35 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Underneath the Facade of Complacency

10/10
Author: nycritic
4 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Had it been released in the year it's set in -- 1957 -- FAR FROM HEAVEN would have broken grounds on several different levels because it brings to light what stories then only hinted at. Todd Haynes, channeling Douglas Sirk inch by inch, goes one step further and comes up with a masterpiece of domestic melodrama.

This is the story of three people caught in unfortunate circumstances. The Whitakers, Cathy and Frank (Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid), are the Perfect Couple, married and living under the conservative spotlight of Suburbia, known more as Mr. and Mrs. Magnatech, successful -- the couple who have everything going for them. Of course, with the slight detail that Mr. Whitaker is gay and about to come out.

Coming into the picture at the time the local society writer (Celia Weston) comes to interview Cathy about their idealistic marriage life, Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert) enters the picture. A quiet man who happens to be black in a time when being black meant being segregated, Cathy expresses kindness to him, and the writer jots down 'friend to Negros' which comes to mark Cathy later on.

Frank's double life is the catalyst which will bring Cathy and Raymond together. When Cathy, in her manicured, wifely way, comes to bring Frank his dinner at work, she walks in to seeing him kissing another man (Matt Malloy). Clearly, something is wrong in this picture... and gets progressively so when Frank decides to beat his illness, while still going to sordid bars with equally ashamed men who hang out with the spectre of fear just out of frame, as if one of the many bar raids would befall them at any moment.

Once Frank is out of the picture Cathy turns to Raymond for solace. Friends begin talking, mainly through the correctly named Eleanor Fine (a chilling Patricia Clarkson) who doesn't know how to react to this friendship, while we know she is probably spinning stories behind Cathy's back. It is here when the morals of the time come into play. We are, in fact, reminded that this is the late fifties at every turn. Cathy has been 'seen' with a Negro and this means trouble. Frank, even though he already has a boyfriend, can't stand her friendship. Raymond's daughter gets assaulted by a couple of boys coming home from school. Doors are closing all around Cathy, but there is the hope she may leave with him to Baltimore. Raymond assures her, that is impossible.

The Douglas Sirk influence virtually comes out of the screen at every frame in Todd Haynes film. From the saturated color and excellent cinematography, set decoration, to the almost exact acting from all the leads and supporting actors and its pessimistic/happy ending. Where many movies fail through anachronisms, an almost perfect attention to detail has been taken to make this movie as authentic as possible -- down to the cinematic language and its characters, who are enclosed in its time period. For example, in one scene, Frank swears... but then apologizes, because it is impolite to do so. His gayness even as the film reaches its conclusion remains closeted, within its shame, as he secretly meets with his boyfriend. No happy ending for him here. Neither for Cathy and Raymond, whose acquaintance is vibrant with tension even though they barely exchange a shy kiss and are destined to remain apart. It reminded me a little of IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2000), another film enclosed in its time period with the two romantic leads knowing their chances of a relationship is nil due to tradition. Here it's man's bigotry to himself.

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29 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Works on several levels (though some better than others)

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
28 February 2003

Cathy and Frank are a society couple in 1950's Connecticut. Their perfect house, perfect kids and happy marriage all contribute to making them the toast of the middle classes. However Frank's secret desire for men wrecks Cathy's image of their marriage but they manage to keep it a secret and seek help. When Cathy confides in her black gardener the rumours begin that again threaten Cathy's all-American society queen existence.

It helps when writing a review of a film like this that you can throw round all the right references and draw comparison's wit the two Sirk films from which Haynes drew inspiration from. Sadly I can't do that as I haven't seen either of the works (although have seen some Sirk films), so I'll do the best I can! From the outset this film builds a plastic perfect 50's world before revealing that everything isn't as the outside world (and even those on the inside) may perceive. This works well but the film is strong because it works on several other levels past this one.

Past the fake nature of lives – we are all human after all – are several other broader themes that are not as clear but still important. The place of women is society is one – where Frank's indiscretion appears to still let him work etc, Cathy much smaller crime sees her condemned from all around. Her relationship with Raymond shows how women held social status only as trophies in some circles and, when this role was threatened or made redundant, they had little more standing that blacks etc.

The two fallings of Frank and Cathy are parallel and it is interesting to see the two. Frank stigma that he must hide is one of sexuality while Cathy is less lucky in that her stigma is as clear to observers as the skin on Raymond's face. This is not to say that the film works as well on each of these levels, but it does work well enough on all of them. It is slow and patient and it may frustrate some audiences who will claim `nothing really happens' – if a review says this then ignore it – they have clearly missed the point.

The 50's feel is bang on and very well done. I'm not sure if Haynes has lifted the touches that make it feel `50's' from Sirk directly (i.e. copied) but it really works. The colours are lush and every set and costume feel like it must be straight from the 50's. It is to Haynes credit that he has done this without being camp or wistful in the way that many films set in the period can be. He plays it straight down the line.

The cast are roundly good. Moore deversedly got her nomination for this work and she is excellent. She never goes over the top but is visibly simmering throughout. Quaid is good but has a less complex character to carry, we don't get to understand what he is going through or felling – is it deep guilt, lust, love etc? Haysbert in 24 is OK but plays a stiff, morally righteous man who is so `good' as to be difficult to swallow! Here it is not quite as bad but Raymond is still a ` good, wholesome' man. Haysbert does him well but again I wanted more to the character. The support cast are good and all play the plastic socialites and professionals of 1950's well.

Overall this film is very lush – nothing but praise can be given to director, costumes and set designers etc. The cast are all good even if they must act with decorum and patience throughout and the emotion and drama of the story (although stilted and controlled) is still very involving. A very good film – if it had been made in the 50's it would be held as a classic today.

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45 out of 65 people found the following review useful:

Welcome Back to the Fifties

Author: Ralph Michael Stein (riglltesobxs@mailinator.com) from New York, N.Y.
8 November 2002

Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid effectively inhabit their roles in "Far From Heaven," an engrossing flashback to an affluent northeastern suburb, Hartford CT in 1957-8. Quaid is Frank Whitaker, top sales exec in a company meeting the voracious needs of American consumers for the latest in gadgets and appliances. His wife, Cathy, is so much the high profile model for the typical stay-at-home, support your hubby, take care of the kids mom that she is shadowed by the local gossip reporter and her photographer. She thinks she has the perfect marriage and two terrific if not invariably best behaved kids. Both, however, are too interesting to be mistaken as a large screen resurrection of a 50s sitcom couple.

Cathy can't catch the clue when she bails Frank out of the police station and he mutters angrily about the arresting officers mistaking him for a "loiterer." A loiterer in a neat business suit with a topcoat in Hartford? Only one kind of well-dressed character like that attracted police attention in those days.

Dispensing good cheer everywhere, Cathy decides to bring dinner to her hardworking-at-night husband (no spoiler here, every media review has this part). And what should she find? Frank is in the arms of a man, kissing him actually, clothing in disarray.

Today, a presumably straight spouse or lover being gay, secretly, isn't a taboo subject. It was in Cathy and Frank's time and, in fact, no movie from that period would have touched this subject with a ten-foot boom mike. "An Affair to Remember" was risque enough.

Cathy insists Frank get help and James Rebhorn in a brief role as psychiatrist Dr. Bowman explains the most modern therapeutic approaches to "converting" Frank to exclusive heterosexuality. This was in the days when homosexuality was an official diagnosed mental illness.

In what could have been a familiar variation of the white/black awkward beginnings of friendship seen in Sidney Poitier movies but which in this instance has a refreshing originality, Cathy befriends gardener Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert). An attractive and prominent white woman being seen in public with a black man in the South at this time would have led to probably horrific repercussions. Here we get to see 1950s racist northern suburbia, people who decry Arkansas obduracy (there's a brief shot of President Eisenhower on TV announcing the despatch of the 101st Airborne Division to confront the state's mad governor at Little Rock High School) while dispensing their own venom. No guns, no lynchings, no white sheets - just an insidious degradation of blacks, reducing them to actual invisibility when convenient.

The friendship between Cathy and Raymond is at first tentative and it grows with affecting tenderness. So does the shocked anger of the wealthy gaggle in Frank and Cathy's social circle.

Is Frank cured of his "illness?" Does racial tolerance and respect for diversity seep into Hartford's tony neighborhood? Does everyone live happily ever after? Go see the film. The mid-afternoon packed audience in Manhattan's Lincoln Plaza Cinema broke into applause at the end.

Viola Davies turns in a small but critically important role as the Whitaker's maid, Sybil. Fine acting.

Director Todd Haynes allowed Moore and Quaid to make their roles real, involving, and anguished and funny in turn. Both stars deserve Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.

Rooted in the 50s in many ways, composer Elmer Bernstein turned out a good score, original rather than depending on recognizable tunes from the time. But as is so often the case, at points the score is unduly intrusive where the actors' words and expressions convey all that is necessary, music being an annoyance.

8/10.

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29 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Splendid

Author: (im00sev@aol.com)
12 April 2003

I'm telling you, everybody's just falling in love with all the wrong people in this flick, but it's extremely captivating and the characters are perfectly engaging. I'm a bit shocked at some of your reviews here because I don't think many of you know much about the period. I do. To boot, I'm gay. Julianne Moore is excellent and deserving of the acclaim she's received for this role, as well as Quaid in the supporting role. The thing I think most people missed (or haven't made much comment on) is that both Kathleen and Frank are victims of heart-felt emotions at a time when expressing them is unthinkable. They are equally challenged by simple and earnest desires to "fill the void" in their lives: Kathleen with her giant colorblind heart in a cold society of bigots and Frank in his corporate supremacy and his "It's a different kind of love, Charlie Brown" headache. One reviewer said Frank was abusive, closeted (sure, obviously, duh) and an alcoholic. I guess if you'd ever been through that type of situation you might be a bit more forgiving because it is hell and I came from the 50s so trust. Each of these obviously well-developed characters is simply doing the best they can in a world where their ground-breaking feelings are out of place. I loved it. I own it. And I, clearly, do not advise that slim minds or socially challenged people attempt it. However, if you can watch a movie and not be a judge, if you can accept things not from your time and not about you but about very, very grand new ideas, it's an extremely well-made, well-acted and accurate film. I personally forgot we had so much orange and green furniture. And Moore is to be also commended on how well she wore those giant skirts :)

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27 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

The way we were

9/10
Author: moviemanMA from Massachusetts
15 July 2007

A man and his wife enter the office of a man who could possibly save the man from a life threatening illness. THe process includes many visits with a psychiatrist and possibly some electro-shock therapy. No, this person does not have schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder. This man is a homosexual.

Yes, it is true, this man is considered "sick" but that is just one of the many skewed attitudes of the 1950's that director Todd Haynes brings to light in Far From Heaven. Julianne Moore plays Cathy Whitaker, the wife of Frank Whitaker, Dennis Quaid, who are the proud parents of two children. The live the life that people envied. A nice home, money, success, and happiness. All of that comes crashing down when Cathy discovers her husband is not who he really is.

Cathy goes to Frank's work to drop off some dinner only to discover that her husband is in the arms of another man. Frank says that he is "sick" and wants treatment. Cathy, the "super wife" is behind him 100 percent, as if he really had an illness to beat. Frnak is ashamed and doesn't want support, just some privacy while he goes through session after session of therapy to try and make him "normal".

To add to this difficulty, the family gardener passes away and his son Raymond, Dennis Haysbert, takes over. Cathy comes to confide in Raymond and find peace of mind in his attitude and his overall good nature. The neighborhood looks down on their friendship and casts a shadow on the household. Raymond, a black man, is much like Cathy, seeing not color, but people. Even in New Haven, Connecticut, the feeling of white superiority still runs through the veins of its inhabitants.

The movie from start to finish is wonderful. It is a roller-coaster of emotions. Moore, Quaid, and Haysbert give fantastic performances. Even Patricia Clarkson, who plays Cathy one true friend in the neighborhood gives a delightful performance.

It's not just the acting that gives this movie it's lift off of the ground. Haynes direction and the art direction of the film create a pallet of colors and emotions that set the mood for each seen. The film opens in autumn. The leaves are shades of red, yellow, and orange, a true autumnal foliage like you would see on a Vermont postcard. The clothing is a perfect time capsule of the 50's. Haynes also uses a lot of colored lights to directly influence the mood of a scene. The green neon light of the gay bar Frank enters gives a strange feel like an alien world. The blue light that comes in through the windows in his office at night and in their home after a party means something dramatic is taking place.

Elmer Bernstein has racked up 14 nominations for his music, including a win for Throughly Modern Millie. His score for this film is the current that pushes the story along. Like so many great composers, he doesn't create music but a character. Everything is different with the right score to back up a great story.A story and a script that Haynes wrote so beautifully. He captured the lingo that kids used in the 50's and gave us a look at how kind people can be and how despicable some are.

The issues that Haynes tackles in the film are still around today, just not taken so seriously. It is hard to think that only 50 years ago, homosexuals were looked at as sick people and the African-American community was still not welcome. To this day there are still hints of this feeling around the country, but most is left to be talked about in the privacy of our own homes.

Whether or not you are straight or gay, black or white, democrat or republican, we all are people. Haynes shows that even if two people are in harmony, it is the outside influences that can rip them apart. Hatred and tolerance cannot coexist.

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15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

breaking free

Author: MitchellXL5
13 April 2003

While certainly this film is about race and sexual preference, I think its observations are actually much more universal. What it is about - and so many of the movies it references are also about - is how social structures work hard to prevent you from stepping outside your little world. People work hard to control attitudes towards outsiders - in this case, black people and homosexuals - in a negative way that not only keeps them out, but also keeps you in. Many people just don't like it when you seek something from the outside and will be manipulative to keep it so. Witness Patricia Clarkson, who is so manipulative that she has to remind Jualianne Moore how old and dear friends they - oldest and dearest - in such a way that it is a threat more than a comfort. And the film does this within the conventions of the genre it is putting itself in. In many ways, it merely uses the tawdry, cliched imagery of Hollywood soapers in such a way that, if you are not familiar, they may appear to be cliches here. But they are very intentional. And in this way, everything is controlled about the film - reactions, colors, everything. No wonder the characters need to break out of their worlds.

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14 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Beautifully well made film is unforgettable thanks to rich performances.

9/10
Author: Lucien Lessard from Canada
16 October 2005

Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore) has it all, a handsome husband (Dennis Quaid), Two wonderful children (Ryan Ward & Lindsay Andretta), a loyal housekeeper (Viola Davis) and her close best friend (Patricia Clarkson). Everything for Cathy goes well until her husband starts questions his own sexually. Things are slowly changing for Cathy, when she meets her new gardener (Dennis Haysbert). Which her Gardener is a nice, caring African American man. Cathy's wonderful life is only an illusion and she forced to live a lie or following her heart.

Written and Directed by Todd Haynes (Poison, Safe, Velvet Goldmine) made an genuinely well done melodrama with plenty of style and substance. Moore gives an beautiful, touching performance. Quaid in his best performance yet, which he's outstanding. Haysbert is terrific as Cathy's Gardener. Excellent production designs, lush cinematography and an beautiful music score are the highlight of this film.

DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) transfer and an fine DTS 5.1 Surround Sound (Also in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound). DVD has an featurette, a half-hour "Anatomy of a Scene", an featurette with Julianne Moore & the Director and more. This film was nominated for four Oscars including Best Actress, Best Original Score by the late Elmer Bernstein (Bringing Out the Dead, The Maginificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird), Best Cinematography by Edward Lachman (Less Than Zero, Selena, The Virgin Suicides) and Best Original Screenplay. This film is a must-see. This film is a loving tribute to the 1950's melodrama films. Executive Produced by Steven Soderbergh (Ocean's Eleven-2001, Out of Sight, Solaris-2002) and George Clooney (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night and Good Luck, Insomnia-2002). (**** ½/*****).

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