Far from Heaven
is everything they say it is--just to a lesser degree IMO. It is a marvelously recreated look at Douglas Sirk's world, a ravishing soap opera, an original view of bigotry in the 50s, a nostalgic depiction of advertising iconography, a display of excellent stylistic acting, and an intelligent tearjerker. All it lacks is greatness, and that would be no problem if the media hadn't positioned it in advance as the best movie of the year and an emotional whirlwind. It's neither. Matt Zoller Seitz, a critic I admire enormously even when I disagree with him, has cogently summed up what I think is less than fantastic about the film. I'll quote him:
"After a while you may wonder what the point is, and whether this whole exercise is counterproductive. Haynes seems to be bringing up these retro case studies to critique white, straight, conservative America’s long history of social repression, and to suggest how a 50s Technicolor soap might have gingerly addressed it. Maybe Haynes is saying that even if 1950s Hollywood movies had been bold enough to dig just beneath the surface of American naivete, they still wouldn’t have been able to address social problems frankly, because American society was not sophisticated enough. If this was his point, it’s a valid, original one—but I’m not convinced that a two-hour, obsessively directed feature film was the best place to make it."
In short, yeah, for all the expertise, great scoring and photography, occasionally inspired acting by Julianne Moore, lack of camp, etc., etc., you wonder why this movie has made critics turn cartwheels. It's really, really, really good
--but a masterpiece on the level of the buzz and hype? No way. Sometimes I curse out Entertainment Weekly. This is one of those times. If you don't understand what I mean, respond and I'll respond back.