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Far From heaven

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Far From heaven

Starring: Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid
Director: Todd Haynes
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 107 Minutes
Release Date: November 2002
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Dennis Haysbert, James Rebhorn

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

Writer/director Todd Haynes conceives a retro-melodrama with a contemporary twist in this study of a repressed Connecticut socialite coping with sexuality and race relations in affluent suburbia. When Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore), a Hartford housewife/mother, discovers her successful sales exec husband (Dennis Quaid) in secret embrace with man, she's shocked and confused yet determined to save her marriage. Bound by a conventional conspiracy of silence, she turns for comfort to gentle, confiding conversations with Raymond (Dennis Haysbert), her sensitive, well-educated widower gardener. But back in the '50s, when a white woman was seen socializing with a black man, it ignited scandalous, hateful gossip, resulting in social ostracism.

Deliberately paying homage to the self-sacrificing emotional tone of director Douglas Sirk's "Imitation of Life" genre, Todd Haynes ("Safe," "Velvet Goldmine") constructs a subtle, cleverly incisive screenplay that explores the multi-layered psychological ramifications of unseemly conduct - homosexual and inter-racial - in an era when words unspoken were often more vicious than what was said aloud. Edward Lachman's cinematography, Mark Friedberg's production design and Elmer Bernstein's lush music underscore the idyllic, autumnal poignancy. With Julianne Moore, the quality you can always count on is intelligence as she delivers a raw, riveting performance, while Dennis Quaid captures the insecurity and pain inherent in the husband. Dennis Haysbert is the epitome of tender concern and consideration, evoking Sidney Poitier's perfection in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Far From Heaven" is a stylishly sumptuous, audacious 8 with incisive irony that's incendiary and compelling.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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