starring Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert, Patricia Clarkson
written and directed by Todd Haynes
by Walter Chaw Fascinating in its subversion of the conventions of the 1950s melodrama (Elmer Bernstein's swooping score dead-solid in evoking that time and place), the halcyon euphoria of Todd Haynes's Far from Heaven first surprises with its simplicity, then fascinates with its effectiveness. It is essentially a version of Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows (a title that itself speaks wryly about the Hays Code) that brings all of Sirk's seething sexual subtext embarrassed to the front and centre. Taking that further, consider that if the subtext and text are flipped in Far from Heaven, then the artificiality of the film's surfaces becomes the subtext to the sexual dysfunction. Haynes evokes Greek tragedy in the debunking of the fantasy of the golden, Golden Age nuclear family. He has crafted a pitch black and hopeless picture, a torturous psychosexual exercise as played out by the Cleavers or Ozzie & Harriet.