Haynes 2002 film, Far From Heaven, is bold and involving.
There is no question about the influences here: the 1950s
Technicolor melodramas by Douglas Sirk (most notably All That
Heaven Allows). Sirk is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers
so it is a joy watching one of my current favorite filmmakers
reimagine Sirk's vision. Aside from capturing the look, emotions,
sounds, feelings, and period details of the era, Haynes is
essentially making the film has if it were the 1950s. What
results is a work that that is not only deeply respectful
of it's inspirations, but also gives more complex examination
and in many ways is perhaps more authentic and more socially
important. Todd Haynes has made a 1950s film without holding
back the restrictions those films did at the time. Julianne
Moore's performance is amazing. It's as if Moore (and the
viewer) lose themselves in the character. Everything we see
becomes and feels real. The supporting cast is equally wonderful,
lead by the always reliable Dennis Quaid and Patricia Clarkson.
This is a film of human feelings and behavior. It is a love
story of two lost souls who relationship is doomed by a society
and behavior of ignorance and hatred. The films greatest strength
lies in the beautiful photography. The colors are so refreshing
and it's as if they help tell the story without feeling staged.
From the opening crane shot through the fall leaves, Far From
Heaven is a flawless film of visual imagery. Every detail
is finely designs from colors, locations, sets, and costumes.
But above all this is a film of masterful compositions, which
(like the themes of the film) hold endless layers and depth
beneath the surface. There is such richness and patterned
texture within every frame of the composition, which captured
the expression of the film (often without the need of dialogue).
This is filmmaking at it's most visually complex and artistic.
The emotional style may seem a bit to melodramatic and dated
to some viewers, which sadly discredits the bold intellect
of the filmmaking here. Those that appreciate the glorious
cinematography, fine detailed sets and costumes, haunting
score, and flawless directing and acting, will see it for
what it is: A completely respectful, authentic and sometimes
painful look at what life was really like back in "the
good old days" that in so many ways really weren't all
that great! Bottom line: a masterpiece film that will hit
on all visual and emotion levels.