Dem Himmel so fern (2002)

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Dem Himmel so fern: Directed by Todd Haynes. With Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert, Patricia Clarkson. In 1950s Connecticut, a housewife faces a marital crisis and mounting racial tensions in the outside world.

“Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid effectively inhabit their roles in u0026quot;Far From Heaven,u0026quot; an engrossing flashback to an affluent northeastern suburb, Hartford CT in 1957-8. Quaid is Frank Whitaker, top sales exec in a company meeting the voracious needs of American consumers for the latest in gadgets and appliances. His wife, Cathy, is so much the high profile model for the typical stay-at-home, support your hubby, take care of the kids mom that she is shadowed by the local gossip reporter and her photographer. She thinks she has the perfect marriage and two terrific if not invariably best behaved kids. Both, however, are too interesting to be mistaken as a large screen resurrection of a 50s sitcom couple.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eCathy canu0026#39;t catch the clue when she bails Frank out of the police station and he mutters angrily about the arresting officers mistaking him for a u0026quot;loiterer.u0026quot; A loiterer in a neat business suit with a topcoat in Hartford? Only one kind of well-dressed character like that attracted police attention in those days.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eDispensing good cheer everywhere, Cathy decides to bring dinner to her hardworking-at-night husband (no spoiler here, every media review has this part). And what should she find? Frank is in the arms of a man, kissing him actually, clothing in disarray.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eToday, a presumably straight spouse or lover being gay, secretly, isnu0026#39;t a taboo subject. It was in Cathy and Franku0026#39;s time and, in fact, no movie from that period would have touched this subject with a ten-foot boom mike. u0026quot;An Affair to Rememberu0026quot; was risque enough.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eCathy insists Frank get help and James Rebhorn in a brief role as psychiatrist Dr. Bowman explains the most modern therapeutic approaches to u0026quot;convertingu0026quot; Frank to exclusive heterosexuality. This was in the days when homosexuality was an official diagnosed mental illness.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eIn what could have been a familiar variation of the white/black awkward beginnings of friendship seen in Sidney Poitier movies but which in this instance has a refreshing originality, Cathy befriends gardener Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert). An attractive and prominent white woman being seen in public with a black man in the South at this time would have led to probably horrific repercussions. Here we get to see 1950s racist northern suburbia, people who decry Arkansas obduracy (thereu0026#39;s a brief shot of President Eisenhower on TV announcing the despatch of the 101st Airborne Division to confront the stateu0026#39;s mad governor at Little Rock High School) while dispensing their own venom. No guns, no lynchings, no white sheets – just an insidious degradation of blacks, reducing them to actual invisibility when convenient.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe friendship between Cathy and Raymond is at first tentative and it grows with affecting tenderness. So does the shocked anger of the wealthy gaggle in Frank and Cathyu0026#39;s social circle.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eIs Frank cured of his u0026quot;illness?u0026quot; Does racial tolerance and respect for diversity seep into Hartfordu0026#39;s tony neighborhood? Does everyone live happily ever after? Go see the film. The mid-afternoon packed audience in Manhattanu0026#39;s Lincoln Plaza Cinema broke into applause at the end.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eViola Davies turns in a small but critically important role as the Whitakeru0026#39;s maid, Sybil. Fine acting.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eDirector Todd Haynes allowed Moore and Quaid to make their roles real, involving, and anguished and funny in turn. Both stars deserve Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eRooted in the 50s in many ways, composer Elmer Bernstein turned out a good score, original rather than depending on recognizable tunes from the time. But as is so often the case, at points the score is unduly intrusive where the actorsu0026#39; words and expressions convey all that is necessary, music being an annoyance.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003e8/10.”

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