Tuesday, February 22, 2011

30 Days of Oscar Day 26: Far from Heaven

Movie: Far From Heaven
Year: 2003
Nominations: Best Actress (Julianne Moore), Cinematography, Score, and Original Screenplay
Wins/Snubs: No wins, Nicole Kidman won for The Hours, and Road to Perdition, Frida, and Talk to Her took the other awards respectively.  I think Dennis Quaid was robbed of a nomination for either Best or Supporting Actor, and there are one or two in either category he could have replaced.

I saw this movie originally in theaters and loved it.  I thought it was beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, with a complex story that was richly told and expertly executed.  So when I bought it at the closing of a local video story, I was really excited to see it again.  Sadly, it didn't live up to my memory of it.  The story is disjointed and remarkably shallow handling.  Maybe it's because "Mad Men" is handling this time period and these people with such detail and excellence, that Far from Heaven couldn't live up to it.

Julianne Moore plays the perfectly dressed and coifed housewife to Quaid's executive, who she catches kissing a guy in his office.  This kind of gives her permission to check out her gardener, Dennis Haysbert, and they hit it off, but society in Hartford, CT just can't accept their relationship and they flee together.  I would never have thought the movie could be summed up so simply, but it's basically all that really happens.  You do see some development of Moore's character as she struggles to understand her mysterious husband.  There's a conversation with some of her lady friends and when they talk about how frequently they have sex, you can tell Quaid doesn't ask much of her in that department.  His confusion and frustration does lash out, he hits her once, gets drunk a bit, etc.  And eventually he leaves her for a man.  The movie is also peppered with moments that talk about the racial tensions of the time and the taboo surrounding even talking publicly with her gardener.  However, overall the stereotypes don't really break out of basic storytelling.  I was disappointed in the rewatching of it, which maybe I should do one more time to be sure it's not me.

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