Tuesday, March 2, 2010
In a rare second post of the day (see post below for my version of 'Tabloid Tuesday'), I am veering off the course of my classic movie reviews to bring you 2002's 'Far From Heaven'.
It may not be a classic now, but it will -- and should -- be.
Set in mid 1950's Connecticut, 'Far From Heaven' revolves around Frank and Cathy Whitaker, played brilliantly by Dennis Quaid (in what many consider his rightful comeback) and Julianne Moore, who was nominated for 'Best Actress' in this role.
Cathy leads a seemingly idyllic existence being the proud mother of two and doting wife to Frank, a 'Magnatech' top executive.
As Frank frequently works late climbing his way up the corporate ladder, it is sweet, easy-going and unassuming Cathy who keeps hearth and home well managed for her family.
Of course, she has help in the form of her African American devoted housekeeper and her kind and caring gardener, Raymond -- acted beautifully by Dennis Haysbert.
All is not as it would appear as Frank is harboring a deep secret which Cathy uncovers during a late night run to his downtown office to bring her 'hard at work' husband some dinner....
She walks into his office to find him and an unknown man -- whom Frank met earlier that evening in a gay bar he frequents -- in a lovers embrace.
As her perfect world comes shattering down, Frank explains to her that he's had this 'problem' for years but has managed to contain it until it's recent resurfacing.
Cathy urges him to go to counseling to try and rid him of his homosexual tendencies, convinced that she couldn't go on otherwise unless he 'fixes' himself.
Frank tells his new therapist that he is 'disgusted' by his behavior while it's clear to us that Frank becomes resentful of his perfect wife who's happy to see the world through her rose colored glasses and keep living the idyll existence at the sacrifice of Frank.
The therapist tells him with dedication and hard work, this 'thing' can be beat and Frank assures him that he is in fact 'determined' to do so. The alternatives, his therapist goes on to explain, would be more 'modern' efforts such as electroshock aversion therapy.
Cathy, in the meantime, continues to play 'perfect housewife' and hostess, holding 'Magnatech's' Christmas party at their home, having afternoon daiquiris with the girls and striking up a taboo friendship with Raymond the gardener, a widowed father of a little girl.
Frank and Cathy continue to put up a pretense while it's clear that Frank is not 'healing' himself of his homosexuality.
The focus turns to Cathy and Raymond's friendship where it's obvious feelings are surfacing, causing a frenzy amongst their community's gossip mongers.
While Cathy and Ray don't allow their feelings to get in the way of bigoted 1950's bi-racial social ignorance and nonacceptance, it nonetheless doesn't stop the news of their friendship from reaching an outraged Frank and having catastrophic results to Cathy's social circle, that of Raymond's little girl and her own children.
Torn between her feelings for Raymond and keeping up the charade of a perfect marriage (while Frank continues his dalliances), Cathy's world -- and heart -- is torn apart.
The ending's heartbreaking message suits that of the times in which they live: Frank may go off into the sunset with his male lover, while Cathy must face her future alone after the demise of her marriage and Raymond moving out of state for the protection of his daughter.
The realization being that their love could never be one of acceptance.
Nominated for four Academy Awards, 'Far From Heaven' is as pleasing to the eye with it's 1950's set and costume designs as it's close-minded era message of homosexuality and bi-racial relationships is disturbing.