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Far From Heaven
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Cast:Todd Haynes, Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert

Douglas Sirk became a cineaste darling for making 1950s weepies that were as passionate as they were ironic, reveling in gleaming surfaces and big emotions while telegraphing their hollow core. Todd Haynes' exquisite Far From Heaven captures the Sirk mood to perfection from the moment the first pristine images hit the screen. A reinterpretation of All That Heaven Allows (1955), with a dash of Imitation of Life (1959), Far From Heaven gets every detail right, from the well-appointed, expressively lit homes replete with imprisoning screens and shiny mirrors, the Technicolor foliage that matches the crisp '50s women's fashions, and the tasteful dissolves, to Julianne Moore's Hollywood finishing school elocution, and the violin crescendo at a moment of crisis. Though Haynes nods once or twice to the camp possibilities in his retro vision, the performances in this gorgeous homage pulsate with genuine feeling. Moore shines as the content wife who resists looking through the surface of her life yet has the soul to grasp the alternatives therein, while Dennis Haysbert reveals that the noble black man also has a touch of humor along with the sensitivity and wisdom. Dennis Quaid's closeted husband cracks with anguish, but his underlying aura of white male privilege illuminates the greater suffering inflicted on Moore within the gilded society cage guarded by her pitch-perfect "best friend" Patricia Clarkson. Even with Haynes's potentially over-determined message about prejudice, Moore's fate at Far From Heaven's less-than-happy end honestly earns every tear. Lucia Bozzola

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