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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Pleasantville" meets Douglas Sirk...no resolution...
FAR FROM HEAVEN toys with some interesting material and ideas but never actually touches them. It stands afar from all of the characters and situations so that we are looking at it from the outside looking in. And we never learn why the naive woman at the center of the story takes no stand whatsoever against the prejudices around her or the indifferent husband who all along has been a closet homosexual.
We are supposed to believe that she turns for comfort to her gardener (a la Jane Wyman in ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS) only in this case the gardener is a handsome black so we can add segregation to the various '50s themes. God forbid they should even be seen talking together at an art gallery before the gossip starts.
The script toys with the idea of a romantic attachment that never comes to fruition--with the fadeout on the woman's emotional isolation with the loss of an understanding black male for a companion (he's leaving town) and a husband who is embracing his homosexuality head on.
At the fadeout, we presume our heroine will return to the bland "Pleasantville" atmosphere and continue to live in her immaculate home surrounded by whirling autumn leaves and a middle class suburban life dedicated to two rather nondescript children. None of the issues have really been resolved or confronted in a dramatic style (unlike Douglas Sirk) nor in the more violent style of a movie such as "American Beauty" which also dealt with the decay of middleclass values.
Juliana Moore plays the sticky sweet heroine with charm but her performance becomes pretty one note after awhile. By the middle of the film, we almost expect her to open her refrigerator door and do a Betty Furness Westinghouse commercial, so stifling is her cheerful housewife demeanor. Dennis Quaid underplays the role of the straying husband tormented by the realization that his marriage is a sham--and gives what is probably the most honest performance in the film.
There's an old-fashioned charm in the gorgeous autumnal photography and the perfect facade of the New England-style house where nothing is what it seems. But it's all surface--don't expect to find any deep or meaningful answers here--because it's a strange mixture of the kind of artificiality prevalent in a Douglas Sirk sudser with elements of "Pleasantville" thrown in--without giving the audience any sense of a meaningful resolution.
At least it dares to be a film about relationships--without a single explosion or car chase to satisfy fans of action flicks.
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