• Safe
  • Safe


5.0 2
Director: Todd Haynes

Cast: Julianne Moore, Peter Friedman, Xander Berkeley


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Though its cold aesthetic sense may be reminiscent of the films of David Cronenberg, director Todd Haynes' disturbing psychodrama concerning a Southern California housewife's mental and physical disintegration from possible "environmental illness" is a work all his own. The film is also notable for actress Julianne Moore's incredible and almost selfless portrayal of…  See more details below


Though its cold aesthetic sense may be reminiscent of the films of David Cronenberg, director Todd Haynes' disturbing psychodrama concerning a Southern California housewife's mental and physical disintegration from possible "environmental illness" is a work all his own. The film is also notable for actress Julianne Moore's incredible and almost selfless portrayal of housewife, Carol White. The role was one of her first and unfortunately has since been overshadowed by more high-profile films. Hopefully, with the release of this disc, viewers will rediscover her unforgettable performance in an unforgettable film. Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment's DVD has been given a digital upgrade and it sure does the film good. Shown in its original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, enhanced for widescreen TVs, the film's careful and beautifully haunting compositions really stand out. The film had looked a bit grainy in its previous video incarnation, due to the fact that the film was made for virtually nothing, but there is only occasional grain evident here. Colors also tend to come out more in this transfer. Overall, an excellent job. The two-channel Dolby Surround Sound has also been given an uplift and also sounds great. The disc includes a commentary track with director Haynes, actress Moore, and producer Christine Vachon. The track is excellent, informal and frequently darkly comic, if not downright hilarious in parts. The track is scene-specific, though each participant does have much more to offer in terms of behind-the-scenes anecdotes and technique. The track is definitely worthwhile. The theatrical trailer for Safe is also included, as well as another Moore starring vehicle, The End of the Affair (1999). Cast and crew bios and director's production notes are available as well.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Pete Segall
Leave it to Todd Haynes (Poison, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story) to employ that mysterious malady of the late 20th century, environmental illness, as a vehicle for an icily brilliant critique of contemporary society. Playing subtly with the conventions of both melodrama and satire, Safe poses the question: What happens when someone becomes allergic to the world? Julianne Moore (at her frailest) is Carol, a housewife in suburban Southern California who is suddenly made sick and anxious by everything around her -- her home, her husband (the brilliantly understated Xander Berkeley), her life. She retreats to a remote spa, and there she begins to steadily withdraw from the world. Moore, though blank-eyed and pale throughout, never really looks "sick"; does that mean she's actually well, or are we all unwell? Haynes is calm and deliberately paced in his approach, never becoming ham-fisted with his humor. Consequently, the realization that the world around us is very faulty becomes very real. Recently voted the best film of the '90s in a critics' poll conducted by the Village Voice, Safe is a quiet dynamo.
All Movie Guide - Michael Hastings
After the formal acrobatics of Poison, his 1991 feature debut, writer-director Todd Haynes applied his rigorous, philosophical aesthetic to the venerable genre of the "disease film" with Safe. In the process, Haynes asserted himself not only as a highly skilled, unconventional auteur but also as a savvy chronicler of late-century fear and dread. The film's subject matter lends itself to a plethora of interpretations -- environmental cautionary tale, satire of spiritual vacancy, AIDS allegory -- but Haynes refuses to single out a particular rationale, exploring an epidemic's stigmas and psychological baggage more than the epidemic itself. Aiding the director is Julianne Moore, who imbues Carol, the meek, vapid housewife, with a uniquely sympathetic quality without resorting to the pity-inducing simpering of a conventional issue-movie heroine. Haynes and cinematographer Alex Nepomniaschy give the picture's Southwestern landscapes an arid, minimalist look that owes as much to Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert (1964) as to such paranoia thrillers as The Stepford Wives (1975). But the director forgoes the blunt, predictable rhythms of conventional thrillers for a more laconic, nightmarish approach: conversations dangle long after they're finished, and Carol's protracted physical breakdowns enhance the aura of helplessness. Though Safe had a limited theatrical run, it established Moore as one of the most challenging actresses in Hollywood, alternating high-budget, high-profile productions with memorable independent films; for Haynes, the film marked his graduation from New Queer Cinema pioneer to more rarified "maverick" status, invigorating diverse subject matter with his unique worldview.
Washington Post
...tremendously affecting and eerily compassionate.... [Moore] turns her potentially gonzo-neurotic archetype into a tender being, whose anguish and plight become charged with moral importance. Instead of playing mere spiraling victim, she infuses her persona with extraordinary grace, so that her struggle is shared by all of us. Desson Howe

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital Surround]

Special Features

Digitally mastered audio and anamorphic video; Widescreen presentation; Audio: English 2-channel [Dolby Surround]; Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; Audio commentary with Todd Haynes, Julianne Moore, and producer Christine Vachon; Theatrical trailer; Filmographies; Interactive menus; Director's production notes; Scene selections

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Julianne Moore Carol White
Peter Friedman Peter Dunning
Xander Berkeley Greg White
James LeGros Chris
Kate McGregor-Stewart Claire
Mary Carver Nell
Dean Norris Mover
Ronnie Farer Barbara
Jodie Markell Anita
Susan Norman Linda
Chauncey Leopardi Rory
Saachiko Dry Cleaners Manager
Allan Wasserman Client
Jean Pflieger Client's Wife
Steven Gilborn Dr. Hubbard
Janel Moloney Hairdresser
John Apicella Psychiatrist
Dana Anderson Lynn
Frank Dent Video Narrator
Peter Crombie Dr. Reynolds
Beth Grant Becky (auditorium Speaker)
Gerrielani Miyazaki Listener No. 2
Edith Meeks Patient No. 1
Lorna Scott Marilyn
James Lyons Cab Driver
April Grace Susan
Jessica Harper Joyce
Brandon Cruz Steve
Cassy Friel Baby Shower Child
Francesca Roberts Patient No. 2
Sarah Scott Davis Sarah
Ravi Achar Wrenwood Instructor
Julie Burgess Aerobics Instructor
Elinor O. Caplan Patient
Joe Comando Exterminator
Brendan Dolan Patrolman
Tricia Dong Wrenwood Patient
Tim Gardner Department Store Dispatcher
Wendy Gayle Baby Shower Mother
Eleanor Graham Singer
Mitchell Greenhill Accompanist
Wendy Haynes Waitress
Martha Velez-Johnson Fulvia
Jo Wilkinson Listener

Technical Credits
Todd Haynes Director,Screenwriter
David J. Bomba Production Designer
Neil Danziger Musical Direction/Supervision
Jakki Fink Casting
Mary E. Gullickson Set Decoration/Design
Ted Hope Executive Producer
Ernest Kerns Associate Producer
Lidsay Law Executive Producer
James Lyons Editor
Alex Nepomniaschy Cinematographer
James Schamus Executive Producer
Tony Stabley Art Director
Nancy Steiner Costumes/Costume Designer
Ed Tomney Score Composer
Denny Vachlioti Producer
Christine Vachon Producer
Lauren Zalaznick Producer

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scene Selections
1. Start [2:47]
2. San Fernando Valley 1987 [8:14]
3. Carol In The Morning [3:18]
4. Exhausted [2:32]
5. Deep Ecology [6:21]
6. Dr. Hubbard [1:12]
7. Rory'S Student Paper [2:02]
8. At The Hairdressers [4:36]
9. Apologies & Morning Sickness [3:49]
10. Nocturnal Stroll [2:43]
11. Psychiatric Visit [1:50]
12. The Baby Shower [1:33]
13. Environmental Illness [7:13]
14. Dr. Reynolds [4:06]
15. Clearing Seminar [3:31]
16. Wrenwood Infomercial [8:30]
17. Carol'S Arrival [1:59]
18. The Wrenwood Center [4:10]
19. Welcoming Speeches [2:42]
20. Claire Comforts Carol [5:17]
21. Peter & Carol [7:45]
22. Peter'S Confession [7:13]
23. Carol'S Family Visit [1:37]
24. "Why Did You Become Sick?" [2:24]
25. Saying Their Goodbyes [5:36]
26. Lasagna Dinner [2:45]
27. Carol'S Birthday Speech [3:27]
28. "I Love You" [3:49]


Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Safe 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
All the people in this story do the best they can with limited abilities--and together they form the most formidable and frightening monster I've seen portrayed in film. We the viewers stand helplessly by watching these people reveal their flaws while they remain completely unaware of them. The elements of love and self forgiveness are at once both empowering and disappointing, a candid portrayal that is most difficult to face. The characters may be fictitious but the monster is very real, and the horrible truth is that wittingly or unwittingly, each of us is a part of this monster. For the sophisticated viewer, this film is horror at its finest, most subtle, and profound, that will linger and tempt replaying for years and years.
Guest More than 1 year ago
SAFE is one of the few films I would have to call perfect or as perfect as a film can be. Julianne Moore (a friend of Todd Haynes) gives a breathtaking performance, that should have received an oscar nomination. Todd Haynes is an amazing director (and he's gay of course!). This film is groundbreaking, although I have read it was a satire on affluent suburban housewives & their vacuous existences (Moore's character is completely empty inside, nothing's there) it is also a strong environmental statement. People with EI (environmental illness) do exist & as is stated in the credits of the film, information was received from The Center for the Chemically Injured (somewhere in Texas I believe, no surprise, with all our refineries). The supporting cast are excellent: there is Jessica Harper (from the famous Dario Argento film SUSPIRIA), Mary Carver, James LeGros.....Pay attention to this film, turn up the volume as there are some subtleties that will be missed if you don't listen closely. Another note, the score is fantastic & fits perfectly.