Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Far From Heaven d. Todd Haynes

It's been what, 4 years now since Far From Heaven was in theaters. I had heard numerous good things about it. I had seen it recieve positive reviews from people whom I usually agree with, or at least respect. I never got around to actually watching it till last night. I think I just had it blocked out. In my mind I juist had it as some Oprah Winfreyesque mellodrama or triumph of the human spirit story. While waiting for some Netflix films though, I checked this out from my library and watched it last night.

From the opening shot I really was sucked in. A very nice crane shot through some of the brightest orange and yellow leaves brings you onto the streets of a 1950's New England town and the font that announces the films title is classic 1950's style font as well. Soon enough we are at the house of Mrs. Whitaker (Julianne Moore). The yard is perfect. The trees still have the very brightest leaves, the grass is the greenest green and kids are reprimanded for saying "shucks." We learn that Mr. Whitaker (Dennis Quaid) is a highly successful sales executive and that teh Whitakers are so well respected in the community that that Mrs Whitaker is having a profile done on her by the local newspaper or magaizine. Splendid.

Of course then from there the film attempts to tackle both homosexuality and racism in one fell swoop through the lives of the Whitaker family. The film shouldn't succeed. It's too much to chew here but it works. I was stunned. The darkness of the issues is contrasted by the most polite of dialogues and the vibrancy of the color througjout the movie. Only once does Mr. Whitaker swear at his wife, and immediately after he apologizes. I believe the term "homosexual" is only used even once in the movie, almost as if the townsfolk didn't want to even acknowledge that persons dealt with such desires. The music seemingly stolen from 1950's archives. I'm not sure Julianne Moore or Denis Quaid have been better in any roles.

Everything is so over the top from another world that I was completely sucked into the movie. Truthfully, the setting and the time made it much more affecting than I think a film could be if it was set in 2005 America. It was almost as if we were being told, these problems confrinted families and communities even back then, and still do today. How far have we really come? It seems odd now that I let my own preconceptions get in the way of seeing this long ago.

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