Todd Haynes' 2002 film grapples with the lingering racial and sexual mores of the 1950s. Info
Todd Haynes and Julianne Moore first worked together on one of the more underrated films of the 1990s in Safe (1995), and Haynes' impeccable direction, coupled with Moore's performances, have made for some of the more memorable scenes in cinema in the past 25 years. For a stellar example of this partnership, look no further than 2002's Far From Heaven, which centers on a brilliant yet understated performance from Moore. In our new desperate age of identity politics, the film's explorations of race, betrayal, and homosexuality in 1950s suburban Connecticut are as timely as ever. Close to two decades after its release, our sociopolitical compass has not moved far enough that interracial relationships are seen as acceptable in 2018.
Seemingly, Cathy (Moore) and Frank Whitaker (Dennis Quaid) have it all: a beautiful home, successful careers, and a storybook marriage. This illusion is shattered when Cathy surprises Frank at work one evening and catches him kissing another man. As Cathy's world crumbles around her, she begins an unlikely friendship with the Whitakers' black gardener (Dennis Haysbert) during a time when furtive glances and lingering hugs were enough to start a whisper campaign with the neighbors. There are no easy resolutions to Cathy's quandary, and the social ills of the world begin to suffocate her marriage. Her husband is more concerned about the optics of her budding friendship with their gardener then how his infidelity is impacting their relationship.
The 1950s atmosphere of this film was heavily influenced by two Douglas Sirk pieces, Imitation Of Life (1959) and All That Heaven Allows (1955), the latter of which is screening earlier this semester at Cinematheque. If possible, see both as they will undoubtedly complement one another. —Edwanike Harbour