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Far From Heaven, Directed by Todd Haynes

Focus Features, September 2, 2002 (US)

Screenplay: Todd Haynes

Starring: Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert, and Patricia Clarkson

Raymond Deegan
(Dennis Haysbert): The modern artist pairs it down to the basic elements of shape and color.

The color palate of the 1950s reminds me of the lovely hues of fall. An Oldsmobile Rocket 88 drives by, streaked in the soft pale green. A vinyl-topped Ford Custom Crestliner shines brightly in canary yellow. There goes a teal Chevrolet Skyline followed in short order by a classic pink Cadillac Coupe DeVille. Their drivers are rushing home (a bit buzzed from after work cocktails) to go and relax in lovely parlors that are elegantly adorned with rosewood veneer sideboard cabinets that sit to the side of martini olive sofas, angled hard and stiff. A bright orange Eames LAR armchair isn’t too far away. Each piece and each color is in total harmony, firmly entrenched in its perfect little place.

Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore): Oh Frank, are you alright? What happened?

Frank Whitaker (Dennis Quaid): Everything’s fine. It was all just a big mix up. The whole thing.

A siren sounding in these parts is unexpected, a sharp slap to the face.

Cathy: So there were … drinks after work.

But the moment passes. The wail of the police cruiser trails off across the invisible distance separating fact from fiction, divorcing real life from the irrelevance happening across the lines of oblivion on the other side of town. This neighborhood is beautiful, absolute heaven, especially stunning in the fall. Cathy Whitaker’s doll house, a little girl’s dream come true.

Cathy: But really, my life is like any other wife or mother’s. In fact … I don’t think I’ve … ever wanted anything.

That’s strange. Maybe the maid was preoccupied. Oily residue of fingerprints on an otherwise well-polished table are caught in the glare of the afternoon sun. A minor offense you might think, but somehow it manages to annoy all the same, eating away, like the thing about the drinks after work. Somehow, momentum had suddenly shifted on a dime, and it was building, rolling on, building, and, then, exposure.

Cathy: I just wish it didn’t have to turn ugly in front of our friends.

Oddly, the spotlight can seem more traumatic than the truth itself. So, maybe your lives weren’t that perfect all, so what? But for it to have come out like this, in public, in front of friends? What will they think now? Hell, what are you thinking? How could you?

Frank: I know it’s a sickness because it makes me feel despicable.

Where to turn?

Eleanor Fine (Patricia Clarkson): Cathy, I’m your dearest friend in the entire world. You call me day or night. You hear?

Be wary the promises of undying support that can often be as authentic as a caption on a Hallmark card, or as flimsy as weathered wallpaper, bubbling and peeling at the first hint of moisture as another layer is collapsing from the fortress-turned-house of cards.

News flash. Your perfect world isn’t so perfect, Mrs. Whitaker. Your friends are not real friends. You perfect world is racist. Homophobic. Bigoted. All the colors of hatred live on your block, lady yes your block, same as they do everywhere else. Put that on your For Sale listing.

Raymond: It seems to be the one place where whites and coloreds are in full harmony.