Far From Heaven (2003)
Critic Consensus: An exquisitely designed and performed melodrama, Far From Heaven earns its viewers' tears with sincerity and intelligence.
It is the fall of 1957. The Whitakers, the very picture of a suburban family, make their home in Hartford, Connecticut. Their daily existences are characterized by carefully observed family etiquette, social events, and an overall desire to keep up with the Joneses. Cathy Whitaker is the homemaker, wife and mother. Frank Whitaker is the breadwinner, husband and father. Together they have the perfect '50s life: healthy kids and social prominence. Then one night, Cathy discovers her husband's secret life and her tidy, insular world starts spinning out of control. Fearing the consequences of revealing her pain and confusion to anyone in her own social circle, she finds unexpected comfort and friendship with her African-American gardener, Raymond Deagan. Cathy's interactions with Raymond; her best friend Eleanor Fine; and her maid, Sybil, reflects the upheaval in her life. Cathy is faced with choices that spur gossip within the community, and change several lives forever. … More
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as Cathy Whitaker
as Frank Whitaker
as Raymond Deagan
as Eleanor Fine
as Dr. Bowman
as Mrs. Leacock
as Mona Lauder
as Dick Dawson
as Reginald Carter
as Elderly Woman
as Man with Moustache
as Spanish Bartender
as Red-Faced Man
as Soda Jerk
as Officer No. 1
as Officer No. 2
as Hotel Waiter
as Hutch's Friend
as Bail Clerk
as Blond Boy
as Blond Boy's Father
as Staff Member No. 1
as Woman at Party
as Glaring Man
as Pool Mother
as Pool Daughter
as Pool Daughter
as Band Leader
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Critic Reviews for Far From Heaven
The actors move about this elaborate movie museum in a modified dream state, as if living in the present while rooted in the past. But the strategy doesn't work. It's an imitation of lifelessness.
We are left wondering why, in any case, an imitation Sirk was needed, what appetite or interest it might fill. Even with its latter-day (modified) frankness, Far From Heaven is only thin glamour that lacks a tacit wry base.
With tact and care, the movie digs into all the subjects that lay concealed below the surface when Max Ophuls and Douglas Sirk were filming their own melodramas in the nineteen-fifties.
Quaid makes a decent man's anguish richly palpable. Moore makes us feel hidden frenzy with a cool and ultimately heartbreaking grace.
Haynes doesn't simply take a Norman Rockwell setting and release the hounds, either. He deals with these issues directly, but gently, as if his and Sirk's audiences were the same.
Audience Reviews for Far From Heaven
I can't help but think that Mad Men took some of its inspiration from this piece. Interracial romances and homosexuality were so much more salacious when they were taboo...
Todd Haynes is known for his subversion of styles and formats with his work, and with this film, he takes aim at the look and feel of classic 1950s Hollywood melodramas, particularly of the Douglas Sirk variety.
This is the story of a seemingly idealic lead by housewife Cathy Whitaker and her corporate ladder climbing husband Frank. Their lives seem perfect, and to their friends in neighbors in Hartford, they are truly the stand up citizens of the community.
However, this is far from the case beneath the surface of things, and the majority of the film is dedicated to focusing on the effect of when the imperfections of their lives start to break through the surface, and, in line with Haynes's trademarks, the major issues that are focused on here include alienation/isolation, and homosexuality. And, since the film is set in the 1950s, race and class are focused on, too.
The specific story might not be the strongest aspect of things, but it's still really solid, compelling, and well done. The film does lose some steam in the third act, and overall it is rather inconsistent tonally, but that's pretty muchc my only complaints. The technical side of things is absolutely brilliant. Not only does this film capture the era of the 50s with the look, feel, styles, period details, and attitudes, but it reflects the films of that era as well. This is an absolutely gorgeous looking picture, with some of the most expressive cinematography I've seen in a while, with much of the lighting and colors reminding me of Kubrick. Elmer Bernstein provided the music, and it was one of his final scores, if not the complete last. It's maybe a bit overwrought and a tad too melodramatic at times, but nonetheless gorgeous and fitting.
This film also swings for the fences where the performances are concerned. Quaid's not in it that much, but he makes the most of his screen time, and gives one of the best performances of his career. Moore really owns the screen here, and this is some of her most beautifuly nuanced work. It's memorable, though not as idiosyncratically so as her most unforgettable roles. Haysbert takes what could have been a one note role and breathes life, depth, and subtelty into it, and it is also one of his standout turns.
All in all, this is a successful film. It accomplished its mission wonderfully, and even got to add some edge to it given that it came out in a less restrictive era than the one its emulating and portraying. I've mentioned it's flaws, but even with them the film is a nice piece of work that's thoughtful, enjoyable, and worth discussing.
I had nothing better to do and happened to catch this on TV. Good thing I did, I really got soaked into it and began to be concerned while the story continued to unleash the darkness.
It's around the 1950's, so the whole interracial thing is a "BIG NO NO" along with homosexuality. A story that tells us how it was and how it usually ended which in reality is not always good sadly.
The world was so black and white at one stage and full of prejudice and "false righteousness". Though truthful and sad it's a decent enough flick for having a glimpse of the world before now.
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