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Far From Heaven (2003)

tomatometer

87

Average Rating: 8.1/10
Reviews Counted: 210
Fresh: 182 | Rotten: 28

An exquisitely designed and performed melodrama, Far From Heaven earns its viewers' tears with sincerity and intelligence.

92

Average Rating: 8.5/10
Critic Reviews: 50
Fresh: 46 | Rotten: 4

An exquisitely designed and performed melodrama, Far From Heaven earns its viewers' tears with sincerity and intelligence.

audience

79

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 22,515

My Rating

Movie Info

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

PG-13,

Documentary, Drama, Special Interest

Todd Haynes

Apr 1, 2003

$15.8M

USA Films - Official Site External Icon

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Cast

Latest News on Far From Heaven

July 18, 2007:
Video Clip of Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan
Celebrated director Todd Haynes has taken on a rather ... experimental project this time around....

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All Critics (210) | Top Critics (50) | Fresh (182) | Rotten (28) | DVD (21)

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.

April 1, 2014 Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

April 1, 2014 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

April 1, 2014 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Quaid makes a decent man's anguish richly palpable. Moore makes us feel hidden frenzy with a cool and ultimately heartbreaking grace.

April 1, 2014 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

April 1, 2014 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Todd Haynes has crafted a feature-length homage to Sirk that succeeds both on its own terms and as the Sirk film that could never have been made in his own lifetime.

April 1, 2014 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Far From Heaven should create a wider audience for Haynes, long considered one of America's leading independent directors.

April 1, 2014 Full Review Source: Willamette Week
Willamette Week

Could Haynes go on making films if the health police were ever to let up? He apparently needs to define himself in opposition to their controlling mindset.

April 1, 2014 Full Review Source: The Nation
The Nation

Moore gives one of the year's great performances -- subtle, lingeringly rich -- in director Todd Haynes's peculiar revisionist homage to old Hollywood women's pictures.

April 1, 2014 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

This exquisite evocation of the 1950s tear-jerkers of director Douglas Sirk is gorgeously designed, stunningly photographed, ravishingly scored and beautifully acted.

April 1, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

The arthouse Pleasantville, this handsomely crafted facsimile of '50s melodrama is unengaging and redundant, the lacquered artifice erecting a barrier between screen and audience.

April 1, 2014 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A takeoff on Douglas Sirk's overwrought, color-saturated 1950s melodramas that rises above its camp roots and converts artifice into art.

April 1, 2014 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

[Haynes'] discomfiting ability to get under the puritanical skin of the US is hampered here by the confines of imitative homage.

April 1, 2014 Full Review Source: Screen International
Screen International

Haynes' most fully realized and commercially succesful feature to date is that rare thing, a meticulous homage to Douglas Sirk as well as a poignant drama in its own right.

July 6, 2012 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Sensitive, mature melodrama about sexuality in the 1950s.

December 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

One of the most beautiful looking and surprising films of the year.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Dark Horizons
Dark Horizons

It's evident that the movie is in love with itself.

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

One of those films that hits just about every of its intended notes right that descriptions seem moot.

January 29, 2009 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

One of most experimental and inebriating films of the year.

August 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

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...
September 14, 2012
Letitia Lew

Super Reviewer

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.
July 30, 2012
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

21/08/2010 (TELEVISION)

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.
July 26, 2012
EightThirty

Super Reviewer

Fifties era social prejudices are exposed when a husband reveals his homosexuality while his wife falls for their African American gardener.
Juxtaposing prejudices race and sexuality could produce a winning social critique, but by the end of this film, I don't know what the film is really saying. After all, the abuses faced by the two "others" in this film don't lead to a one-to-one comparison. In fact, turning the homosexual into the perpetrator of racial prejudice muddles the film's message.
I hate Julianne Moore; this film is no different, and Dennis Haysbert plays Deegan just like his Allstate commercials. And the music is overwrought, always instructing us how to feel about the film's events. Finally, the cliched fifties housewife doesn't ascend beyond her cliche strictures despite the extraordinary nature of the film's events.
Overall, Far from Heaven is an interesting idea for a film, but there's too much in the way of poor execution.
May 8, 2012
hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Movies Like Far From Heaven

    1. Cathy Whitaker: I don't understand.
    2. Frank Whitaker: I don't understand either.
    – Submitted by Frances H (4 days ago)
View all quotes (1)

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