Movie Review: Far from Heaven

Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid in Far from Heaven

Jump to the good stuff: The Story | Some Thoughts | The Final Verdict

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Story:

Far from Heaven is a melodrama set in 1957 about a housewife whose marriage falls apart when she discovers her husband in the arms of another man.

Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore) is a housewife living in a wealthy Connecticut town. One night she gets a call from the police because they’re holding her husband, Frank (Dennis Quaid). She picks Frank up, and he explains that they’d arrested him up by mistake, that it was a misunderstanding. Cathy doesn’t question him, and they go back to their lives.

Frank often works late, and one night Cathy decides to surprise him by bringing dinner. When she arrives at his office, she finds Frank kissing another man. That evening Frank agrees to see a doctor to “cure” his homosexuality.

As Frank attends conversion therapy to save his marriage, Cathy forms a friendship with Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert), her black gardener. And when Cathy runs into Raymond at an art event, the two begin talking, leaving the other white attendees in shock.

Soon the town gossips spread the news about Cathy and Raymond, Frank starts to drink heavily, and Cathy begins to see the truth about her “perfect” world.

Some Thoughts:

Far from Heaven is shot like an over stylized 1950s melodrama. Because of this, the outside world often feels a bit fake, highlighting the falseness of Cathy’s seemingly perfect life. And it’s this false exterior that Cathy has accepted as truth.

The film is also about prejudice, and the double standards that come with it. When Cathy’s friend, Eleanor (Patricia Clarkson), mentions that an art dealer will be attending an event, she says that she doesn’t care for him; she suspects that he’s “light on his feet.” And later, at the gallery, people are talking to the suspected gay man, who happens to also be white, with no issues. But when Cathy sees Raymond and says hello, people stare in shock.

There are so many levels to Far from Heaven, and because of this, it can be enjoyed for the story alone, or you can go even deeper. Themes of prejudice, homophobia, and innocence mix in a film that harkens back to old Hollywood melodrama. Director Todd Haynes has enough skill and understanding of American cinema to pull it off.

The Final Verdict:

Far from Heaven is an entertaining film that is packed with a fantastic group of skilled actors. It’s a throwback to vintage Hollywood that will thrill anybody who enjoys movies from the 1950s.

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