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Far From Heaven

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Todd Haynes
Produced by Jody Patton
Christine Vachon
Written by Todd Haynes
Starring Julianne Moore
Dennis Quaid
Dennis Haysbert
Patricia Clarkson
Viola Davis
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography Edward Lachman
Editing by James Lyons
Distributed by Focus Features
USA Films
Release date(s) November 22, 2002
Running time 107 min.
Country United States
France
Language English
Budget $13.5 million (est.)
Gross revenue $29,027,914

Far from Heaven is a 2002 drama film written and directed by Todd Haynes and starring Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert, and Patricia Clarkson.

The film tells the story of Cathy Whitaker, a 1950s housewife, living in suburban Hartford as she sees her seemingly perfect life begin to fall apart. It is done in the style of a 1950s, Douglas Sirk film (especially All That Heaven Allows and Imitation of Life), dealing with complex contemporary issues such as race, sexuality and class.

The film was nominated for several Academy Awards: for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Julianne Moore), Best Original Screenplay (Todd Haynes), Best Cinematography (Edward Lachman), and Best Original Score (Elmer Bernstein).

Contents

Plot

Set in suburban 1950s Connecticut, the film is about Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore), the perfect wife, mother, and homemaker. Cathy is married to Frank (Dennis Quaid), a successful executive at Magnatech. The film begins when Cathy gets a phone call from the local police and her husband is put on the line. He says it's all a mix up but they won't let him leave alone. Cathy is preparing for her annual party with her best friend, Eleanor Fine (Patricia Clarkson). One day, Cathy spies an unknown black man walking through her garden. He turns out to be Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert), the son of Cathy's late gardener.

Frank is soon being forced to stay late at the office, swamped with work. One evening, however, we see him enter a bar. Meanwhile, Cathy and Raymond develop a friendship. On one particular night, when Frank is working late, Cathy decides to wrap up his dinner and take it to him. She walks in on him passionately kissing another man. Frank confesses having had "problems" as a young man, and agrees to see psychiatrist Dr. Bowman (James Rebhorn) in the hope of being "converted back" to heterosexuality. His relationship with Cathy is irreparably strained, however, and he turns to alcohol. Unable to comprehend the destruction of her marriage, Cathy turns to Raymond for comfort. She sees him at an art show, where she spends much of her day talking to him, setting the town ablaze with gossip.

As Cathy sees her once idyllic world falling apart, she begins to fall in love with Raymond, and their evident relationship has unpleasant consequences for him and his daughter. At the same time, Frank, unable to suppress his homosexual desires, falls in love with another man and seeks a divorce from Cathy.

Cast

Style

Far from Heaven is made in the style of many 1950s films, notably those of Douglas Sirk. Haynes created color palettes for every scene in the film and was careful and particular in his choices. Haynes emphasizes experience with color in such scenes as one in which Cathy, Eleanor, and their friends are all dressed in reds, oranges, yellows, browns, and greens. Haynes also plays with the color green, using it to light forbidden and mysterious scenes. He employs this effect both in the scene in which Frank visits a gay bar and when Cathy goes to the restaurant in a black neighborhood.

Haynes also uses shots and angles that would have been standard in Sirk's films and era. Cinematographer Edward Lachman created the 1950s "look" with the same type of lighting techniques and lighting equipment (incandescent), and employs lens filters that would have been used in a 1950s-era melodrama. The script employs over-the-top, melodramatic dialogue, and Elmer Bernstein's score is reminiscent of those he had composed 40 and 50 years earlier.

In the commentary, Haynes notes that he was also influenced by Rainer Werner Fassbinder's film Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.[1] As in Fassbinder's film, in Far from Heaven Haynes portrays feelings of alienation and awkwardness. For example, instead of cutting to the next scene, Haynes sometimes lingers on a character for a few seconds longer than comfortable to the viewer, the same technique used by Fassbinder.

Another notable feature is when Cathy drives her car through town. Rather than filming inside the car as it actually moves, the car is filmed still with artificial backgrounds seen through the windows, reminiscent of older films. On the DVD commentary, Haynes states that one of these scenes re-uses the artificial background first used in a scene from All That Heaven Allows.

Awards

Far From Heaven was nominated for 4 Academy Awards. The film was nominated for over 100 other awards and won approximately 30 of them. In the Fourth Annual Village Voice Film Critics' Poll, Far From Heaven was voted the best picture of 2002.

Notable awards

Academy Awards

Nominations

  • Best Actress in a Leading Role - Julianne Moore
  • Best Original Screenplay - Todd Haynes
  • Best Cinematography - Edward Lachman
  • Best Original Score - Elmer Bernstein

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

Wins

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director - Todd Haynes
  • Best Actress - Julianne Moore
  • Best Supporting Actor - Dennis Quaid
  • Best Cinematography - Edward Lachman
  • Best Original Score - Elmer Bernstein

Nominations

  • Best Supporting Actress - Patricia Clarkson
  • Best Screenplay - Todd Haynes

Golden Globes

Nominations

  • Best Actress in a Leading Role (Drama) - Julianne Moore
  • Best Supporting Actor - Dennis Quaid
  • Best Screenplay - Todd Haynes
  • Best Original Score - Elmer Bernstein

Independent Spirit Awards

Wins

  • Best Feature
  • Best Actress - Julianne Moore
  • Best Supporting Actor - Dennis Quaid
  • Best Director - Todd Haynes
  • Best Cinematography - Edward Lachman

National Board of Review

Wins

  • Best Actress - Julianne Moore

New York Film Critics Circle Awards

Wins

  • Best Film
  • Best Director - Todd Haynes
  • Best Supporting Actor - Dennis Quaid
  • Best Supporting Actress - Patricia Clarkson
  • Best Cinematography - Edward Lachman

Online Film Critics Society Awards

Wins

  • Best Actress - Julianne Moore
  • Best Supporting Actor - Dennis Quaid
  • Best Original Screenplay - Todd Haynes
  • Best Cinematography - Edward Lachman
  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Costume Design - Sandy Powell
  • Best Original Score - Elmer Bernstein

Nominations

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director - Todd Haynes

Screen Actors Guild Awards

Nominations

  • Best Actress - Julianne Moore
  • Best Supporting Actor - Dennis Quaid

Writers Guild of America Awards

Nominations

  • Best Original Screenplay - Todd Haynes

Soundtrack

See also

References

  1. ^ Far from Heaven DVD commentary track

External links








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