Was Allstate Insurance around in the 50′s?
Cathy (Julianne Moore) is the perfect 50s housewife, living the perfect 50s life: healthy kids, successful husband and social prominence. Then one night she discovers her husband Frank’s (Dennis Quaid) infidelity and her tidy world starts spinning out of control. In her confusion and grief, she finds consolation in the friendship of their African-American gardener, Raymond (Dennis Haysbert) – a socially taboo relationship that leads to the further disintegration of life as she knew it.
Writer/director Todd Haynes does something very strange with this flick that I don’t think I have seen done before ever. He takes what is the style of a 1950′s film and puts themes and conversations that would only be talked about in film’s today. It’s sort of like a confusing combination between two different time-periods but I have to say he makes it work.
This is definitely Haynes’ film right from the get-go as almost everything here is meshed-out perfectly and completley with style. Everything here fits the look of the 50′s with all of the bright colors that take over every scene and seem to pop right out at us, the costumes look real instead of making it seem like these famous people are just dressing up for Halloween, and the cinematography captures some real pretty shots that add so much more to this flick and give it this feel of beauty. The score is also done very well, almost a little too well as it constantly comes into scenes with a soaring sound, but that’s pretty much done on purpose. Haynes has a style here and he keeps to it which makes this one of those films that even a deaf person can enjoy since every shot just oozes beauty.
The screenplay, that was also written by Haynes, is very well-structured in a different way. This is very much a film that shows people in the 50′s talking about social taboos during the 50′s but still being able to talk like as if they were living in this time-period. Everybody is so corny and says such things as “aww shucks” or “gee golly” but then when they start talking about such topics as racism and homosexuality then the film gets a little edgy but in a good way and not over-exploitative. There’s a good story here as well and as it goes on, you start to feel more and more for this woman even though it may be a little hard to relate to her considering not many out there have to deal with a gay husband.
Even though the script is well-structured, there were still moments where it had its big faults. The whole racism subject is touched upon gently when it’s just Cathy and Raymond talking but when it comes to the other people and how they respond to it, well that’s where the film seems a little too over-dramatic. The scenes where other people see them together have this score music that almost makes it seem like the shower scene from ‘Psycho’ or any other horror flick to give it this hyper-charged feel. Not only was this a problem but even the scenes where we see the differences between black and white people from Hartford seem way too different to even be considered in the same film. The black scenes seem a little too modern as if they were filmed in a completley different place than the rest of the film was located and it seemed like too much of a fault to let go.
Still, this film definitely depends upon its lead performance from Julianne Moore, and she does not let it down. Moore is an actress who I think always seems to play the same type of gal in every film but she’s very good here as this very simple, nice, and sweet lady who starts to see her world crumble down. She’s curious, sad, confused, but most of all, real and that’s the type of genuine feelings I got from Moore’s performance here as Cathy. Dennis Quaid is amazing as her husband, Frank, and he gives off one of the better dramatic performances of a confused guy that I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s a real wonder as to why Quaid doesn’t do more dramas because he’s really good here.
Dennis Haysbert plays Raymond with a great deal of subtlety and restraint to give you this feel that he is totally nice dude and would never ever hurt a fly. We always see this guy in those Allstate commercials (see the pun up top) but with this performance here and as the daddy in ‘Love & Basketball’, he shows why he can really pull out some great dramatic chops with a voice that almost has Morgan Freeman running for his money. It’s also pretty funny to see Viola Davis play a role here as the nanny, Sybil, a role she would still be playing all these years later but actually getting nominated for it in ‘The Help’.
Consensus: Far From Heaven is a film that perfectly matches the style of films from the 50′s, with a great story that touches on the life-styles of the times, and performances from just about everybody involved that make this an emotional and heart-felt story, even if it seems a bit over-dramatic.
I never thought that two completely different things could go together so well.
It’s about winning, losing and playing the game. Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) grow up next door to each other playing basketball, fighting and falling in love. When simultaneous turns in the big leagues throw their off-court relationship off-kilter, the pair discovers that very little is fair in Love & Basketball.
This is a very savvy but mostly warm-hearted sports film that is kind of like the 21st century basketball reaction to Bull Durham. I though that this movie would be a little too African American for me, seeing as it was produced by Spike Lee. But, I had a wonderful time with it and it actually turned out to be one of my favorite romances in awhile.
This is a sports movie that is not how each particular game turns out. It’s about the love and the faith these two people have for the game. It’s about practicing for the game, prepping for the game, and most of all winning the game. Not every film you see about basketball shows the practice scenes where as this one shows them, and the effects it has afterward.
The one thing that was very fresh about this film was that it did not take advantage of the subject they had. Since it is the first film to feature woman playing the game of basketball, it really does focus on how Monica feels about the game and doesn’t use it for more profanities.
This film really does start to shoot itself in its own foot by the end. Almost every scene becomes more cliched than the one before, and it really started to aggravate me and have me wondering how a film so genuine about love and all it’s speed bumps could be so oblivious to what is thought about when thought about Romance films.
This film does feature some real great acting from both of its two leads. I found Epps very smart and believable, and Lathan an absolute sensation, she’s strong, smart, witty, and most of all believable. The chemistry between the two stars is exactly right. They are entirely believable as friends, as rivals and as lovers this is a tricky combination for any acting pair. There are also plenty of side characters that take over this film and do some good jobs at supporting acts.
Consensus: Though it is heavily cliched, Love & Basketball features some fresh writing and direction, along with two very believable performances and unmatched chemistry between the Epps and Lathan.