37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Far from Heaven,
This review is from: All That Heaven Allows (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)From the opening shots of a small (presumably a New England setting, although I am not sure where this was actually filmed) town during fall, to the bright blue car that pulls up to Jane Wyamn's home, to Agnes Morehead's head turning shade of lipstick, you know that "All That Heaven Allows" is firmly rooted in the 1950s. It's nice to see Douglas Sirk getting the critical appreciation he deserves (most recently with the full length Sirk homage "Far from Heaven".) This film is gorgeously photographed (pay attention to the scene where Wyman and daughter confer in the light of the stained glass window) and well told. While this film can hardly be called a "hard hitting" look at 1950s society at first glance, the more you watch it, the more the subversiveness comes through. One of the most telling moments is the conversation between Jane Wyman and the wife of Rock Hudson's friend who talks about realizing how caught up she and her husband were in material trappings and how they opted out of that lifestyle. This conversation (and indeed this film) is just as resonant and important today where materialism is rampant and the longings underneath the surface are never explored.
Rock Hudson is fine as Jane Wyman's landscaper/love interest. He's an incredibly good-looking man and is the recipient of one the film's funniest lines when Wyman asks him "Would you prefer I was a man?" Of course, this line is only funny in hindsight now that we know what we do about Hudson's life. Agnes Morehead (pre-Endora) is also very good as Wyman's best friend.
As somebody who was only familiar with Jane Wyman from her work as the devious Angela Channing on "Falcon Crest" (a role she truly must have relished), it is nice to see her playing much more sympathetic characters in her heyday. The eeriest thing is that despite a few wrinkles as she got older, Wyman always looked the same. Wyman is very good in this film as she vascillates between the financial stability of the upper crust and the emotional satisfaction of life with Hudson. I highly recommend this film, and cant say enough good things about it. If you're not a fan of soap opera melodrama, you may want to stay away, but it's your loss as this is a gorgeous film that deserves the respect years of scrutiny have given it.
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Initial post: Dec 10, 2012 3:09:22 AM PST
K. Featherston says:
This is an excellent review! I have not as yet bought the DVD, but I plan to do that soon as I've already viewed the movie ten times via TV. Your point about the conversation between Cary and Alida is on target - in the 50's, there was already much concern that society was trending too much toward materialism. Director Douglas Sirk was truly gifted in portraying societal attitudes and mores without using a sledge hammer to do so. This will always be one of my top ten favorite films.
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