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Far From Heaven

USA 2002. Director: Todd Haynes
Cast: Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert, Patricia Clarkson, Viola Davis

Indie luminary Todd Haynes had a crossover critical and commercial success with the virtuoso Far From Heaven, a magnificently controlled re-creation of the stylistically sumptuous, thematically subversive 1950s Hollywood melodramas of director Douglas Sirk — and, in particular, All That Heaven Allows, Sirk’s lavish 1955 tearjerker. A ravishingly rendered, rigorously controlled portrait of desire thwarted by the social rules and restrictions of a repressive era, Far From Heaven is set in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1957, and opens, gloriously, amid the blazing colours of a New England autumn. Julianne Moore, in an Oscar-nominated performance, is superb as a well-off suburban wife and mother who finds herself drawn to her handsome African-American gardener (Dennis Haysbert) as her marriage to her troubled husband (Dennis Quaid), a business executive with a scandalous secret life, begins to unravel. Part homage, part remake, Haynes’s lush film captures Sirk’s melodramatic, Eisenhower-era, women’s-picture universe with note-perfect precision; loaded with plenty of irony and insider smarts for the film buffs, it is at the same time a highly affecting drama — a straight-ahead (yet admirably restrained) “weepie” — in its own right. It’s also drop-dead gorgeous cinema. Colour, 35mm. 107 mins.

 

REVIEWS

"An accomplished marriage of elaborate style and content."

Variety | full review

"Exultant in both its artifice and its cruel honesty, it's a movie Sirk would make today - and, as such, it's quite brilliant."

Time Out | full review