Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Tuesday, June 24, 2003  

Quick question: is there any Julianne Moore film, apart from that one with the aliens, that doesn't have her at some point suffering a neurotic episode and a histrionic crying fit?

Watching Moore's Oscar-nominated performance in Far From Heaven, you know it isn't a question of if, but when the tears will come. Which is not to say the film is heavy and depressing, though it does have its moments. What makes Far From Heaven a good - though by no means great - film is the economy with which writer and director Todd Haynes tells his story. He never lets his subject matter (interracial relationships and homosexuality in 1950s middle-class America) weigh down the narrative. Serious things happen; but they're allowed to happen, not made to happen.

This lets the actors realise convincing, natural performances, particularly the three leads. Moore is on auto-pilot as the housewife trying to caulk her leaking marriage while noting the advances of the family's black gardener, a solid Dennis Haysbert; but it's Dennis Quaid as the husband battling his homoerotic compulsions who's best here. You feel for him, every step of the way, down to the inevitable choice he's forced to make.

Again, it's to Todd Haynes' credit that he conjures up no fairytale ending, or doesn't force feed you a heavy handed moral. If at times the film does seem to be, well, making a point, it's only natural: how else does one realistically deal with the issues raised here, given the period?

Decent viewing all in all, a few notches above your average network or Lifetime film of the week. As for Moore, she's done the woman on the verge of a complete conniption to death now. Time to put the Kleenex away.

posted by Jonathan | 1:03 AM 0 comments


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