In 1984, British journalist Arthur Stuart investigates the career of 1970s glam superstar Brian Slade, who was heavily influenced in his early years by hard-living and rebellious American singer Curt Wild.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers,
Cathy is the perfect 50s housewife, living the perfect 50s life: healthy kids, successful husband, social prominence. Then one night she stumbles in on 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 <email@example.com>
Julianne Moore was the one who suggested that her character had to be blonde. Todd Haynes disagreed at first, but later told her she was right. So he had to do some changes in the film, like the color of the scarf, in order to fit that. See more »
The typewriter around the corner from Frank Whitaker's office is a late-model Selectric (circa 1971 at the earliest). See more »
I've learned my lesson about mixing in other worlds. I've seen the sparks fly. All kinds.
See more »
FAR FROM HEAVEN is like a long, elaborate joke that seems to build and build to a punchline that never comes. As it goes along, you patiently wait for it to have a point, your interest ebbs and flows, but it is fanciful enough that you stick it out to the end, only to discover that it was not a joke and was never intended be. And you're left confused, embarrassed and more than little bit irritated.
FAR FROM HEAVEN is a detailed recreation of a very specific type of drama from the 1950's: a high-gloss, emotion-on-the-sleeve "women's picture" wherein everything has the rich Technicolor tone of an ad for refrigerators or hair care products from out of the pages of LIFE, LOOK or the Ladies' Home Journal of that era. Yet, this studied look of perfection is undercut with a melodramatic angst of social disorder and class dysfunction. It was high class soap opera and it's chief practitioner was Douglas Sirk, though he had his imitators.
This sort of pastiche of cinematic artificial perfection died even before the beginning of the sixties and took on a dinosaur like quality with the advent of the French New Wave, social unrest and the long overdue death of the production code. Therefore, when director Todd Haynes serves up this painstaking recreation of this antique genre, one has the right to be suspicious; Hollywood usually only visits it's past for the purpose of parody, think MOVIE MOVIE or YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. The film is so straightfaced in its recreation of the genre -- lush, melodramatic music, heightened emotional line readings, etc. -- that one assumes that Haynes has his tongue firmly in his cheek. But he doesn't; he genuinely wants to explore how this type of 50's film with would have dealt with the issues of interracial romance and homosexuality had the times permitted those themes to be openly explored way back when.
This leads to one simple question: Why? If you take a very real situation and set in down in a very fake setting, it doesn't make the real situation feel even more real; it makes the situation seem fake as well. And therein lies the problem with FAR FROM HEAVEN: instead of being an honest exploration of the themes of bigotry and homophobia, it only seems to trivializes it's own intentions, without even a fig leaf of satire to disguise it's failure.
Julianne Moore is charming in the lead role, but you have to be willing to accept the idea that she is sophisticated enough to understand her husband's closet homosexuality on one hand, yet be so naive that she doesn't realize that running around town and socializing with a black man is a no-no, even in the relatively liberal setting of suburban Connecticut. And her stylized suffering seems as artificial as the picture perfect set design and lush background score.
FAR FROM HEAVEN can be appreciated as a wonderful, if utterly hollow, exercise in style, but as an exploration of social mores of the 1950s -- or of contemporary standards -- it is far from heavenly.
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