Far From Heaven
"Far from Heaven" accurately shows an ideal 1950s' suburban couple, Cathy and Frank Whitaker (Moore & Quaid) so involved in their corporation that people call them "Mr. and Mrs. Magnatech." Stern parents, they reprimand their son for, "Aw, shucks," and society editor Mona Lauder (Weston) wants to profile them. While interviewed, Cathy instinctively and sympathetically touches the shoulder of an unknown black man in her yard, who introduces himself as Raymond Deagan (Haysbert), the son of their gardener, who has just died. Celia notes, "Cathy is a friend to Negroes."
One night, Cathy has to get Frank - a good-looking ex-jock - from the police; he's "had a lousy cocktail." Later, he's in a gay bar. Taking Frank dinner when he's working late one night, Cathy finds him kissing a man. Frank tells Cathy he's gay; Cathy is attracted to Raymond.
True to 1957's values, Frank says he's "going to lick this problem [homosexuality]." He doesn't have sex with Cathy, who's attracted to Raymond, and in awe of his kindness (foreign to her segregated world). He, in turn, dotes on his 11-year-old daughter.
When Cathy is seen with her gardener and gets a frosty a reception in a black diner, we see that either race approves of mixed couples. Frank screams that Cathy is ruining their reputation, but ignores that his gay love is also a liability. Frank drinks and turns ugly as Cathy's feelings for Raymond grow. All the characters are trapped.
The movie's superb look and feel of a 1950s' film are largely due to Ed Lachman's cinematography, which faithfully reproduces lush 1950s' studio style - like 1950s' "interior decoration." Haynes says, "Every element" in his film was "filtered through film grammar."
One detail is exact: Interracial and homosexual love were treated as if they were on separate moral planes. Raymond and Cathy don't have a plausible future together, but that's tinged with regret. But when Frank falls in love with a young man, the affair is ignoble: motel rooms and furtive meetings. In the 1950s, homosexuality dared not speak its name.
The film plays like a powerful 1957 drama we've somehow never seen before. Haynes brings his issues into focus, and Moore, Quaid, and Haysbert play characters whose instincts are so different from their own that their characters are real to us.
Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert, Patricia Clarkson, Viola Davis
1957; interracial love; homosexual love
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