Far From Heaven
Filmmaker Todd Haynes (Safe, Velvet Goldmine) takes the color palette and manufactured emotions of such Douglas Sirk melodramas as All That Heaven Allows and massages them into one of most experimental and inebriating films of the year. The 1950s marriage and upper-middle-class life of housewife Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore) and her insurance-agent husband, Frank (Dennis Quaid), are shredded by infidelity and bigotry, after Cathy befriends their black gardener (a gently virile Dennis Haysbert) and Frank struggles with his own sexuality. This domestic weeper about desire and ethnic, class and sexual boundaries peels back layers of the Stepford 1950s that have lodged themselves in our collective consciousness. The movie suggests that the soap opera can be just as socially relevant in the right hands as it can be laughable in others. Suburbia and all its pockmarks have never been so firmly realized and mesmerizing.