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Parents' Guide to

Far from Heaven

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Sensitive, mature melodrama about sexuality in the 1950s.

Movie PG-13 2002 108 minutes
Far from Heaven Poster Image

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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.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: November 8, 2002
  • On DVD or streaming: April 1, 2003
  • Cast: Dennis Haysbert , Dennis Quaid , Julianne Moore
  • Director: Todd Haynes
  • Inclusion Information: Gay directors, Black actors, Female actors
  • Studio: Focus Features
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 108 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: mature thematic elements, sexual content, brief violence and language
  • Last updated: November 1, 2023

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