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DVD Reviews: Far From Heaven

The Final Say!

Feature Score:
DVD Extras Score

Reviewed by Alex Cuming
Review Date: 6 July 2003
Distributed by:
Warner Home Video
Running Time: 103 Minutes

Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid star in a modern rendition of an old genre.  Far from Heaven touches on a variety of themes including life during the 50ís, racial intolerance, and the ideal family.  Julianne Moore stars as Cathy a highly conservative, idealistic mother and lady of a certain prestige in the social network of an American town.  Her willingness to hide the fact that her marriage is falling apart is shown in what she wears, dresses with vibrant colours will pronounce a happy feeling and the pastels a contemplative mood.  The basic colours: white show innocence, black when the tapestry of the family is falling apart. 

The story behind this film other than already mentioned is about family and social life during the 50ís.  Cathy and her husband, Frank have what seems like the perfect family, two children a lovely house and many A-list friends.  Soon the family starts having problems of shocking proportions.  Her husband is having difficulty knowing his sexuality.  Rather a distasteful subject but this is a contemporary take on old cinema.  The pressure to conform to the values of the times seems to fracture the heart of the family and the behaviour starts going awry.   

Cathy starts to have an affair with the gardener who is black.  The town becomes busy with rumours and disdain for Cathy.  She seems to have no outlet for her emotions therefore dresses in ways to express this.  Her friends offer their support but even then, they cannot find understanding for Cathieís attraction to the gardener.  As time goes by the family starts to fall apart and there is conflict between the two central characters, Cathy and Frank. The ramification of this is Frank seeking relationship fulfilment in other areas like Cathy is acting out herself.  Will the family stick together? Or fall apart? Watch and youíll find out. 

Many of the editing techniques and cinematography used in the film is rarely used today in modern cinema therefore giving the flow a different feel and authenticity.  Themes and issues touched on in the film can still be applicable to current times but the dated feel of the film will interest people interested in old cinema.  The racial intolerance of the town is done to make them seem ridiculous and sheep following each other in their views. These times expressed the inability of independent thinking that is encouraged in current times.  Whilst an interesting concept Far from Heaven is not what you may call invigorating.  The older films had more iconic actors and the vibe is not the same as the original older films. 

Relying on acting, dialogue and minor special effects (eg. in car view) there is not a great deal here to set the world ablaze with dazzling performances.  The performances do feel faithful to the times and the acting dictates the feel that we are watching a film. 

The highlight of the DVD is the special features, which includes a smorgasbord of options,  the best one being the anatomy of a scene, which analyses the film in all categories such as cinematography, costume design and directing.  The actors and makers of the film show the purpose behind every detail including colours used to create emotion to the melodramatic performances of the actors. 

Overall Far from Heaven is an ok film but Iíd imagine to fans of old cinema would love.  The best part of these films is that there is no violence or swearing to be heard throughout the motion picture.  A more story accentuated approach is different to modern cinema but this film has good points only slightly out-weighing the bad points.


Far from Heaven Features

  • Anatomy of a Scene

  • The Making of Far from Heaven

  • The Film Maker's Experience

  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Director's Commentary

  • Production Notes

  • Biographies


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