FAR FROM HEAVEN
BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
JANUARY 14, 2014
More like an episode of “Mad Men,” Todd Haynes’ period drama “Far From Heaven,” set in the late ’50s, tackles some racy issues including homosexuality, interracial relationships, and divorce, all on the backdrop of a picture-perfect ’50s family. Julianne Moore plays the matriarch of the family, Cathy Whitaker, a stay-at-home mom with more on her plate than the average professional. Between magazine interviews, party planning, and keeping the household in order, Cathy barely has enough time to gossip with her fellow stay-at-home wives, including Eleonor (Patricia Clarkson). Her drifting husband, Frank (Dennis Quaid) is kept away from the home by work, or so he would have her think. Running to the office to bring her husband a late-night dinner, Cathy uncovers the truth as to why he stays late at work. Add to that the blossoming relationship between herself and her black gardener Raymond (Dennis Haysbert) and the film is a muddle of a gossiper’s delight. Moore steals the show with her reserved nature, powering through the heavy portions of the film, putting the entire cast of “Mad Men” to shame. However, Quaid and Haysbert never quite bring to the table at the same level of awe. And Viola Davis shows her uncanny nature as a maid almost a decade before “The Help”. “Far From Heaven” never quite answers a majority of its questions and does come off like an episode of a television show, but with enough star power and “before its time” content, the film holds together well enough to captivate.
November 8, 2002
(for mature thematic elements, sexual content, brief violence and language)