Far From Heaven 2002

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(29) IMDb 7.4/10
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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.

Starring:
James Rebhorn, Viola Davis
Rental Formats:
DVD

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature ages_12_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 47 minutes
Starring James Rebhorn, Viola Davis, Dennis Haysbert, Julianne Moore, Patricia Clarkson, Dennis Quaid
Director Todd Haynes
Genres Drama
Studio ENTERTAINMENT IN VIDEO
Rental release 22 September 2003
Main languages English

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 Feb 2006
Format: DVD
If you've been around long enough to remember those 50s shows like "Father Knows Best", you'll remember how perfect life for the American WASP middle class was depicted as being. Perfect father, mother, marriage, children (or at least reasonably well behaved), job (for Dad - Mom stayed home), house, schools, and neighborhood. If there was a dark side, it didn't extend further than one of the Anderson kids complaining about having to help set the perfect table for the perfect home-cooked dinner. America had single-handedly won WWII (what Eastern Front?) and was keeping the world safe for democracy. Ike was President, and life was grand. For those of us who lived even a close approximation, it was.
FAR FROM HEAVEN begins just that way. Frank Whitaker (Dennis Quaid) and his All-American blonde wife Cathy (Julianne Moore) - the high school cheerleader/prom queen sort who probably married right after graduation - own a perfect (and huge) home in a perfect neighborhood of Hartford, CN where you can't see the perfect neighbors for all the trees (gloriously clothed in perfect fall colors). The Whitakers have two perfect kids, and Frank manages the local office of mighty Magnatech. It's 1957, and when the Whitaker boy says "Oh, gee!", Mom reprimands him for his bad language. Frank wears a suit, tie and hat; Cathy wears full skirts and is perfectly coifed. In this all-white world, the only Blacks are the perfect housekeeper Sybil (Viola Davis) and the perfect gardener Ray (Dennis Haysbert). But there's a flip side.
In the film's leading role, Moore turns in an Oscar-worthy performance as the 50s-perfect wife whose perfect life implodes on the day she discovers hubby, ostensibly working late, in his office passionately kissing another man.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. R. G. Bullock on 30 April 2007
Format: DVD
From the start, this film is saturated in a nostalgic lyricism. The lovely suburban street in the fall, the trees all shades of red and orange; the sleek 1950s cars, all fins, two-tone colours and chrome. The score is light, tuneful and delicately orchestrated, recalling Virgil Thomson. This is the America of the north-eastern seaboard where all the best Americans come from. Most of the characters appear to be thoroughly decent, as well. At first. Julianne Moore plays the wife and Dennis Quaid the husband and they have two model children who call their Dad 'Sir' and do as they are told. Julianne Moore is a paragon: she is kind, tolerant, liberal and incredibly resilient. It is she who bears the emotional trauma of her husband's re-emergence as a gay. He had suppressed his sexuality for the duration of the marriage so far. She takes it in her stride and supports him rather than showing rejection.

One effect of this threat to her marriage is a growing relationship with her black (over-qualified) gardener (Dennis Haysbert). He, too, is a thoroughly decent man who has a lovely little daughter. They begin to meet discreetly - or so they think. They are obviously made for each other but meet disapproval and cruel behaviour from both sides of the racial divide. This is not the Deep South, so there are no burning crosses on the front lawn - just a feeling that it is everyone's business to express their views. In one scene, the couple are talking in the street and Julianna Moore breaks off their relationship. As she moves to go, he puts a restraining hand on her arm. The whole street, anonymous until now, freezes and men call warnings to Haysbert to unhand her. Ms. Moore's best friend, a thorough brick up to then, cuts her when she hears about the relationship with Haysbert.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Square Peg on 11 April 2006
Format: DVD
Being a fan of the Douglas Sirk melodramas of the 1950's, I expected to at least enjoy the flavour, the set design , the style of the movie. I didn't expect to be moved by it. Surely it would seem naive and wooden in this age of gritty realism and method acting? But the story of a woman's struggle with her failing marriage and her feelings for someone new, was told completely without irony. The crisp dialogue and studied artifice of the characters only made the yearning below the surface even more poignant. It is difficult sometimes to appreciate how difficult it was to move outside of the rigid social expectations of nearly 50 years ago - but this movie seemed to make the point very clearly. Fabulous score, marvellous direction, spot on performances and the costumes were to die for!
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Aug 2003
Format: DVD
Todd Haynes' "Far From Heaven," the best film of the year, is the kind of movie lover's dream that requires more suspension of disbelief than your usual fantasy or musical. It demands a willingness of the viewer to be transported back to a time when movies were shot on studio back lots and came with a lush artificiality and a distinct archness.
Like "8 Women," the current FranÁois Ozon French romp, "Far From Heaven" gets its inspiration from the florid melodramas that director Douglas Sirk made in collaboration with producer Ross Hunter at Universal, working within the 1950s studio system. However, whereas Ozon has fun, merely flirting with signature Sirk ingredients, Haynes is serious and goes further. He re-creates Sirk's soapy tableaux with such a single-minded, virtuosic flair that his bid for perfection becomes an unconstrained fetish.
The result is a film that works as a tribute to a specific bygone film genre and style, but also to the era itself -- the 1950s in all its repressed, hypocritical glory. "Far From Heaven" doesn't merely play like a '50s-style movie. It is a '50s movie. Except for a couple of taboo issues that Haynes has moved from the background into the forefront, he's created a film that looks and feels as if it was made in 1957, the year in which his story is set.
The old-style opening credits immediately signal that we are in Eisenhower's America, where the notion of "normalcy" is a lie that shrouds the real desires and needs of people. Sirk's camera would trail behind his glamourous leading ladies (usually Jane Wyman, Lana Turner or Dorothy Malone) and peer through the openings of the curtains that concealed the secrets within their perfectly attired suburban homes.
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