|By Mira Harber
Far From Heaven is a visually stunning film, set in the
1950's. It starts out looking like one of those 50's melodramas but it
is immediately evident that this film is so much more.
Cathy Gardiner (Julianne Moore) plays a dutiful, devoted
housewife, kind to her everyone (including her black gardener). She and
her husband Frank (Dennis Quaid) present an ideal façade to the
world - Mr.& Mrs. Magnatech, the perfect corporate couple, living their
perfect lives, but that reality is far from the truth. Frank is a closet
homosexual - he barely admits to himself his true feelings and barely understands
his homosexuality and despises himself for it. 'I can lick this thing'
he tells a psychiatrist. His wife finds companionship and comfort with
their black gardener Raymond Deacon (Dennis Haysbert). They are seen in
public, at an art gallery to be sure, discussing art, but this simple act
starts tongues’ wagging. As the wife and gardener grow closer, they experience
prejudice from all quarters - not just from the white community, but equally
from the black community. Remember, this is 1950's Connecticut. Cathy's
best friend Eleanor (Patricia Clarkson) provides a sympathetic ear and
comfort to Cathy when she haltingly speaks of her husbands’ homosexuality,
but when Cathy broaches the subject of inter-racial relations - whoa Nellie!!!
That is a horse of a different color. The temperature of the room drops,
and her Eleanor's sympathy evaporates when it comes to race.
The backdrop to these stories is absolutely stunning photography,
costumes and scenery. This movie is painterly and hyper-real in its' gorgeous
and lush fall colors. Even if the film were mediocre, I would recommend
it, just to LOOK at, but it is so complex, vibrant and deeply satisfying
that I definitely recommend it as one of the year's 10 Best Films. Julianne
Moore gives a multi-layered, multi-faceted performance that deserves the
Best Actress Oscar. Let's see if the best actress wins.