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Far From Heaven

Far From Heaven

4.6 5
Director: Todd Haynes

Cast: Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert


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Director/screenwriter Todd Haynes has created a melodramatic, star-packed, 1950s drama with Far from Heaven from Universal Studios. This heart-wrenching tale about spouses, fantasies, and unraveling marriage is presented beautifully in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are clear, even thought the film itself is shot with a slightly dreamy, past-tense feel


Director/screenwriter Todd Haynes has created a melodramatic, star-packed, 1950s drama with Far from Heaven from Universal Studios. This heart-wrenching tale about spouses, fantasies, and unraveling marriage is presented beautifully in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are clear, even thought the film itself is shot with a slightly dreamy, past-tense feel for effect. The English 5.1 Surround Sound is the perfect vehicle to enjoy the haunting musical score by Elmer Bernstein. A French 5.1 Dolby Surround track, French subtitles, and Spanish subtitles are also included. The studio included many extras on the disc, which is to be expected considering the weight of the star power and the attention that the film received at last year's Academy Awards and Golden Globes. First, there's a screen-specific, rather technical audio commentary with Haynes that offers everything from in-depth insight into the makings of the film to the symbolic meanings of melodramas of the 1950s. Following that, the disc provides three featurettes, with the first being the lengthy "Anatomy of a Scene." Stars such as Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid provide insight into the movie, as do production designer Mark Friedberg and composer Bernstein. "The Making of Far From Heaven" is the typical commercial-like lengthy promo featuring all the film's primary players, but it's still interesting enough to warrant a look. In "A Filmmaker's Experience," Moore and Haynes speak in front of a live audience during a Q & A session at Los Angeles' American Cinematheque. But disappointingly, it's the shortest of the three featurettes. Rounding out the fare are production notes, filmographies, and a theatrical trailer.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Kryssa Schemmerling
The most ambitious project yet from indie director Todd Haynes (Safe, Velvet Goldmine), Far from Heaven is a meticulous homage to the ‘50s melodramas of Douglas Sirk -- right down to the swelling Elmer Bernstein score and the obsessive attention to costume and décor. Borrowing elements both from Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows and Imitation of Life, it tells the story of an upper-middle-class Connecticut housewife (Julianne Moore) whose picture-perfect world collapses when she discovers that her husband (Dennis Quaid) is gay. Simultaneously, she finds herself ostracized by her conservative suburban community for befriending a black gardener (Dennis Haysbert). Moore is terrific as she movingly portrays a woman desperately trying to live up to the ‘50s ideal of devoted wife, yet failing due to circumstances out of her control. Encased in padded, corseted period garb and surrounded by the sterile elegance of her midcentury-modern dream house, she seems embalmed in her own life. Cineastes will swoon over Haynes’s absolutely flawless re-creation of the Sirkian world -- it’s so flawless, in fact, that the film occasionally feels a bit airless and academic (unlike Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s own brilliant, scathing Sirk homage, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul). But Moore’s performance, and to a lesser extent Quaid’s, keep the film alive. Far from Heaven offers the same pleasures that the original melodramas do, by inviting the audience to indulge in big, sweeping emotions in the context of a gorgeously executed movie. By approaching the so-called "Woman’s Weepy" with respect and complete lack of irony, Haynes succeeds in resuscitating a maligned but worthy genre.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Douglas Sirk became a cineaste darling for making 1950s weepies that were as passionate as they were ironic, reveling in gleaming surfaces and big emotions while telegraphing their hollow core. Todd Haynes's exquisite Far from Heaven captures the Sirk mood to perfection from the moment the first pristine images hit the screen. A reinterpretation of All That Heaven Allows (1955), with a dash of Imitation of Life (1959), Far from Heaven gets every detail right, from the well-appointed, expressively lit homes replete with imprisoning screens and shiny mirrors, the Technicolor foliage that matches the crisp '50s women's fashions, and the tasteful dissolves to Julianne Moore's Hollywood finishing-school elocution and the violin crescendo at a moment of crisis. Though Haynes nods once or twice to the camp possibilities in his retro vision, the performances in this gorgeous homage pulsate with genuine feeling. Moore shines as the content wife who resists looking through the surface of her life yet has the soul to grasp the alternatives therein, while Dennis Haysbert reveals that the noble black man also has a touch of humor along with the sensitivity and wisdom. Dennis Quaid's closeted husband cracks with anguish, but his underlying aura of white male privilege illuminates the greater suffering inflicted on Moore within the gilded society cage guarded by her pitch-perfect "best friend" Patricia Clarkson. Even with Haynes's potentially over-determined message about prejudice, Moore's fate at Far from Heaven's less-than-happy end honestly earns every tear.
Entertainment Weekly
Far From Heaven is a dazzling conceptual feat, but more than that, it's a work of enthralling drama. Owen Gleiberman
Village Voice - J. Hoberman
Without resorting to camp or parody, Haynes (like Sirk, but differently) has transformed the rhetoric of Hollywood melodrama into something provocative, rich, and strange.
New York Times
It rediscovers the aching, desiring humanity in a genre -- and a period -- too often subjected to easy parody or ironic appropriation. In a word, it's divine. A.O. Scott
Los Angeles Times
The film's three leads are extraordinary, but what Moore does with her role is so beyond the parameters of what we call great acting that it nearly defies categorization. Manohla Dargis

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Focus Features
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Director's commentary with Todd Haynes; the making of Far From Heaven; filmmakers experience Q&A session; anatomy of a scene.

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Julianne Moore Cathy Whitaker
Dennis Quaid Frank Whitaker
Dennis Haysbert Raymond Deagan
Patricia Clarkson Eleonor Fine
Viola Davis Sybil
James Rebhorn Dr. Bowman
Celia Weston Mona Lauder
Mylika Davis Esther
Matt Malloy Actor

Technical Credits
Todd Haynes Director,Screenwriter
Declan Baldwin Co-producer
Elmer Bernstein Score Composer
Tim Bird Asst. Director
Ellen Christiansen Set Decoration/Design
George Clooney Executive Producer
Mark Friedberg Production Designer
Drew Kunin Sound/Sound Designer
Edward Lachman Cinematographer
James Lyons Editor
Jody Patton Producer
Sandy Powell Costumes/Costume Designer
Eric Robison Executive Producer
Peter Rogness Art Director
Laura Rosenthal Casting
Bradford Simpson Co-producer
John Sloss Executive Producer
Steven Soderbergh Executive Producer
Christine Vachon Producer
John Wells Executive Producer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Titles [2:39]
2. Mrs. Whitaker [2:25]
3. A Silly Mistake [3:38]
4. Mrs. Magnatech [5:00]
5. A Secret Life [6:15]
6. Raymond [3:37]
7. Frank's Problem [14:00]
8. The Art Show [5:19]
9. Another Glorious Party [2:59]
10. All Man [4:45]
11. A Day With Raymond [6:52]
12. The Only One [3:54]
13. Vicious Talk [5:59]
14. It Isn't Plausible [2:08]
15. Happy New Year [4:29]
16. Daddy's Girl [4:23]
17. The Breakup [2:54]
18. "Call Me Cathy" [6:59]
19. The Last Farewell [10:40]
20. End Titles [3:54]


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Far From Heaven 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The movie was elegantly and movingly crafted to evoke the bittersweet memory of a bygone era and its hidden social turmoil. Even through the remnants of those long ago years have passed, still the lesson remain the same. True love is a gift from the creator. To demean it, cage it, debase it, or denied it in anyway makes of us bereft of our humanity.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the most gorgeous, evocative, and stunningly beautiful films I've ever seen in my life. Julianne Moore, the best actress of her generation, is a vision. By far the best performance of the year, if not the decade.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film is beyond human limits in so many ways it's almost inexpressable. The beautiful technical feats (Art Direction;Costume Design). The incomparable musical score. But what really get's you is the acting. Julianne Moore's performance is the best I've ever seen by an actress.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Okay! I know I'm going to catch flack for this one, but the 'genius' of 50's melodrama director, Douglas Sirk, has always escaped me. There, I said it. 'Far From Heaven' is director, Todd Haynes attempt at emulating 'Sirk'. In that respect, the film succeeds. It is riddled with lush photography and set in the 1950's - which helps. But as a film of today, it miserably flops. Like Sirk's 'Written on the Wind', 'Far From Heaven' concerns a dutiful wife, Kathy (on this occasion played by Julianne Moore) who discovers that her husband, Frank (Dennis Quaid) is not all that he appears to be. And like Sirk's 'Imitation of Life' there is a hint of tempered racial tension and interracial romance (between Raymond [Dennis Haysbert] and Kathy) that sneaks into the proceedings. But if anything, 'Far from Heaven' proves that you can't go back to the well twice - as it were - and relive the past without being compared and judged inferior to it. Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid aren't very engaging as a couple and the racial undertones are played from a safe distance. Director, Todd Haynes' photography is too lush, at times appearing as garishly cartoonish - something that Sirk was never guilty of - and the plot, such as it is, seems better suited for a segment on 'General Hospital' than mainstream Hollywood film-making. Ironically, it was Sirk's influence through films like 'Written on the Wind' that paved the way for television to take its cue and cultivate the soap opera on the small screen. In retrospect, that premise works. The other way around ¿ it¿s an embarrassment. Besides, 'Far from Heaven' plays it safe at every turn, eschewing biases and bigotry and ending on a very postmodern unhappy note that Sirk would never have approved of. The transfer perfectly captures Haynes' intent. Colors are rich, vibrant and nicely balanced. Black and contrast levels are accurately rendered. There is a considerable amount of edge enhancement and some shimmering of fine details. No pixelization though. The soundtrack is 5.1 and adequately rendered. The extras include a very self-congratulatory featurette in which Hayne's explains how he did Douglas Sirk one better. Like Attenborough's remake of 'Miracle on 34th Street' or Van Sant's shot for shot remake of 'Psycho' - it simply can't be done! I wish Hollywood would realize this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago