Far from HeavenNovember 22, 2002
In 1950s Connecticut, a housewife faces a marital crisis and mounting racial tensions in the outside world.
Release Year: 2002
Rating: 7.5/10 (24,260 voted)
Critic's Score: 84/100
Stars: Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert
Cathy is the perfect 50s housewife, living the perfect 50s life: healthy kids, successful husband, social prominence. Then one night she surprises her husband Frank kissing another man, and her tidy world starts spinning out of control. In her confusion and grief, she finds consolation in the friendship of their African-American gardener, Raymond – a socially taboo relationship that leads to the further disintegration of life as she knew it. Despite Cathy and Frank's struggle to keep their marriage afloat, the reality of his homosexuality and her feelings for Raymond open a painful, if more honest, chapter in their lives.
Kyle Timothy Smith
(as Kyle Smyth)
What lies beneath the surface? What hides behind the walls? What imprisons desires of the heart?
Release Date: 22 November 2002
Filming Locations: Bayonne, New Jersey, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $211,279
(10 November 2002)
(6 April 2003)
Did You Know?
Due to Julianne Moore's pregnancy, Sandy Powell commissioned a duplicate of Cathy's party dress, with the pattern modified to fit her, after shooting of the party scene was pushed back to later in the schedule. However, due to budget constraints, duplicating the dress was not an option. The dress was carefully shaded by a member of the wardrobe department to disguise Moore's pregnancy.
The overhead shot of the front of the train station clearly shows what would be Long Island Sound in the background, but the on the train platform, it is nowhere near the water.
I've learned my lesson about mixing in other worlds. I've seen the sparks fly. All kinds.
Very Close to Heaven
Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven, a homage to the 1950s melodramas of Douglas
Sirk, is an exquisitely crafted film of beauty and grace. The world that
Haynes creates is so meticulously detailed that one almost forgets that
movie isn't fifty years old.
Julianne Moore deserves an Academy Award for her portrayal of Cathy
Whitaker, a homemaker whose idyllic life begins to disintegrate when she
learns that her husband is gay. Moore's Cathy is a delicate woman who
like to be courageous, but can't be because of the world that she is
in. As her innocence begins to die, she realizes how empty and superficial
her life is. When she begins a cautious romance with her black gardener
(Dennis Haysbert) she begins to see the racism and hypocrisy that forms
underbelly of a seemingly perfect world. At the end of the film Cathy has
illusions, and realizes that the life that she thought was perfect is
actually a never-ending hell.
Dennis Quaid is equally stunning as Cathy's tortured husband Frank. After
Cathy discovers his homosexuality, the two are forced to grapple with a
truth that neither of them can comprehend. Frank goes to a doctor for
"treatment," and his confession is heartbreaking. He says that he "can't
this thing, this sickness, destroy my life. I'm going to beat this thing."
We look at Frank and pity him because we realize that such a feat is
impossible, and unnecessary, but Frank does not possess that knowledge.
Frank begins to drink more, and when he finally breaks down and tells
that he has fallen in love with another man, all of the anger, shame, and
joy comes pouring out of him all at once. It is a supremely moving moment,
and the best performance of Quaid has ever given.
As the marriage between Cathy and Frank begins to unravel, the two also
begin to fight. All of Cathy and Frank's arguments and confessions take
place at night, bathed in shadows. The truth has no place in this bright,
artificial world, and it must stay hidden at all costs. One night, when
Frank tries to make love to Cathy and can't, Cathy tries to placate him,
saying that he is "all man" to her. At that remark Frank hits her, and for
moment the audience does not breathe. Cathy then asks quietly for her
husband to get her some ice. Cathy is all restraints, and it is only with
her kind gardener that she has a chance to break free. The scenes between
Moore and Haysbert crackle with erotic energy because everything remains
unsaid. When Cathy finally asks him to dance with her, it is a moment when
we realize what human beings are capable of being together.
The fourth example of stellar acting comes from Patricia Clarkson as
Cathy's best friend Eleanor. Eleanor is a bitter, gossipy, cold-hearted
woman, and when she tells Cathy "I am your best friend," you want to
to Cathy not to believe her. Clarkson makes the most of her rather limited
screen time, and turns in a fascinatingly layered performance.
Far From Heaven may very well be the best picture of the year. In creating
an artificial world, Todd Haynes has managed to lay bare the human soul in
way that has never been done before. It is a moving and important motion
picture, populated with some of the most nuanced acting I have ever seen.
Cathy and Frank Whitiker may be far from heaven, but the film comes about
close to heaven as is possible.