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.
It may be a movie about movies, but the artifice doesn't contradict the movie's plangent emotional realism. Moore's stunning, subtle performance as a woman trapped in the conventions of her time encapsulates the film's brave, double-edged beauty.
This film is a triumph of art direction and acting, with Moore, Quaid and Haysbert giving performances that feel authentic to the time even as they explore subjects and feelings that were at best implied in movies of that period.
Haynes' movie, a sumptuously autumnal tale of grand passion brewed in a suffocating climate of repression and desire, is also an unabashedly loving, slyly subversive homage to the maternal melodramas of that era.
Despite the terrific look and perfectly pitched performances by leads Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid and Dennis Haysbert, there's a camp undercurrent that keeps interfering with any real dramatic impact.