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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie's characters are complex, and they face serious dilemmas and complicated issues relating to marriage, sexuality, race, and social expectations. The 1950s' suburban setting is portrayed as rigid and quick to gossip and condemn, but ultimately the main characters are true to themselves and their feelings.
Violence & Scariness
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters discuss sex; heterosexual and homosexual couples kiss. Some suggested intimacy and discussion of adultery.
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One "f--k" and occasional uses of phrases like "goddamn" and "oh God."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Social drinking; a character gets drunk. Some smoking (era-appropriate for the '50s setting).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this Oscar-nominated melodrama deals with mature, complex issues, including prejudice, sexuality, and adultery. Characters make anti-Semitic and racist comments; there's also some drinking and smoking. One character gets drunk in an attempt to numb the pain he feels about not being true to himself. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Though the point of view of the movie is sympathetic, it feels somewhat distant. Writer/director Todd Haynes sets his story not in the world of the 1950s but in the world of 1950s movies. It is inspired by the films of Douglas Sirk, whose specialty was stories of women suffering nobly in fabulous clothes. Far From Heaven is a tribute to Sirk's All that Heaven Allows, in which widow Jane Wyman loses her heart to gardener Rock Hudson. Like the character who inspired him, the gardener played by Rock Hudson, Raymond symbolizes the natural man in an artificial world, and Haysbert plays him with dignity, warmth, and a subtle magnetism that shows us how Cathy can feel safe enough to allow herself to be drawn to him.
Moore and Quaid, too, give performances of breathtaking sensitivity and courage. But it is not clear whether the movie is set in the 1950s as a way to show us what Sirk could only hint at about that era or whether it is an attempt to say something about our own. It is tempting to distance ourselves from the problems faced by the people in this movie. They have no context or vocabulary to talk about the disconnect between what they feel and what they are expected to feel. While Sirk's movies can still move me to tears, this movie did not. The meticulous re-creation of the movies of the era, down to the style of the credits and the music by the legendary Elmer Bernstein, feels more elegiac than immediate, more admirable than involving.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.