The model marriage of Frank (Dennis Quaid) and Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore) in 1950s Hartford is depicted in television ads, and a magazine features photographs of Cathy as a model homemaker and citizen. Yet, behind the curtains of their dream home, Cathy and Frank hide scandalous secrets. Frank has been masquerading his homosexuality and is seeing a doctor for a heterosexual conversion. Meanwhile, Cathy finds solace in her gardener, Raymond (Dennis Haysbert), a black man about whom Cathy must conceal her growing feelings, since simply being seen with him is cause for scandal. Filmmaker Douglas Sirk employed the trappings of the melodrama to satirise and criticise narrow minds in the 1950s status quo with films such as ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS. Todd Haynes (SAFE) uses Sirk's highly stylised universe to critique society half a century later in FAR FROM HEAVEN. The film uses thematic elements of Sirk's such as isolating characters through windows and vivid, symbolic colours and flowers. It also applies Sirkian plot devices such as gossiping neighbours and demonising television. Attacking prejudice, Haynes' methods are particularly effective as he uses an antiquated style of filmmaking to shed light on societal problems that are pervasive even in the 21st Century.
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