'Far From Heaven': Far from perfect and not so heavenly

    Taking everything into consideration, “”Far From Heaven”” isn’t far from “”The Brady Bunch.”” Just get rid of four of the kids, make Alice black, make Mike a homosexual, involve Carol in an interracial struggle, and set the Brady’s back about 10 years. There’s your film, “”Far From Heaven.””

    The film follows Cathy (Julianne Moore), through the struggles of being a woman in the 1950s. Add to the Tupperware parties and constant housekeeping the fact that she lives in a white-male-dominated society that confines her to basic gender roles that undermine her value as a human being.

    While the film deals with a number of issues, such as bigotry and homosexuality, it deals most seriously with Cathy’s struggle to survive in a society that will not condone her interracial relationship or her husband’s newly discovered homosexuality. While Moore is on screen for the majority of the film, her character doesn’t demand the full force of her acting ability because she is basically imitating the 1950s ideal woman.

    Dennis Quaid plays a confused homosexual male, Frank, who tries desperately to fight what is termed in the film “”the sickness.”” While the storyline does not closely follow Frank’s character outside his wife’s reaction to the discovery, Quaid’s part is probably the most challenging in the film.

    He has to take what little time he has on screen and play as much confusion and anger into it as possible while ultimately questioning whether or not he really wants to fight or embrace his homosexuality.

    The film’s statement about homosexuality is clearly secondary to what it has to say about the female struggle. The script makes this clear because Frank rides an emotional rollercoaster throughout the film while his wife’s resolve is granite-tough.

    Dennis Haysbert of plays the lead black male role Raymond, Cathy’s new gardener. His story, like Quaid’s, is very secondary to what is going on in the life of Cathy. He is the stereotypical 1950s black man, reserved in the face of hateful whites and slow to anger. His philosophical side appeals to Cathy after she realizes that she can no longer connect with her husband. Realizing that her husband rejects her, she is able to sympathize with the rejected black male and take down the racial barrier long enough to see his inner beauty.

    While this film really didn’t do anything new from a social awareness standpoint, what it did do was combine views on a number of different social problems into one film. Looking mainly at the feminist perspective came at the cost of not dealing seriously enough with the bigotry issues.

    The film was 1950s all the way, from the setting to the soundtrack and cinematography. While it was interesting to see these normally skirted issues in a film that stayed so true to its setting, it felt somewhat like watching “”Citizen Cane”” in that one can simultaneously be aware of the film’s greatness, and be bored. Far From Heaven

    Far From Heaven

    ****

    Starring Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid

    In theaters Nov. 15

    Rated R

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