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Film / Far from Heaven

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"What imprisons desires of the heart?"

Far from Heaven is a 2002 American period melodrama film written and directed by Todd Haynes and starring Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert, Patricia Clarkson, and Viola Davis.

In 1950s Connecticut, upper-middle-class suburban housewife Cathy Whitaker (Moore) sees her perfect life start to fall apart as she faces a marital crisis and mounting racial tensions in the outside world.

Far from Heaven provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Frank turns to the bottle to cope with his many problems.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Frank who is married to Cathy but is a closeted homosexual and secretly frequents gay bars and affairs with another closeted man.
  • Coming-Out Story: Cathy's husband Frank struggles with his homosexuality and eventually tells her about his troubles with boys growing up as a child.
  • Cure Your Gays: Frank seeks therapy to get over his homosexuality.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The treatment of Frank's homosexuality—seeking therapy to fix it, and the reaction to Cathy's interracial fling.
  • Did Not Get The Guy: Cathy tells Raymond that they can be together now that she's single but he rejects her due to the racism plaguing the town they both live in and tells her that he's planning to take his daughter and move away. Cathy impulsively suggests that she come with them and that they make a fresh start elsewhere, but he sadly tells her that the reaction to their relationship would be negative no matter where they went.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When a neighbor sees Cathy talking with Raymond in a bar located in a black neighborhood, she tells everyone. The town is soon ablaze with gossip about the two of them.
  • Domestic Abuse: Frank strikes Cathy when she tries to console him about his impotency.
  • Double Standard/Hypocrite: Frank has cheated on Cathy, but is enraged at the rumors of her possible infidelity with Raymond. (There's also the implication that it adds insult to injury that her lover is a black man).
  • Genre Throwback: To melodramas of the 1950s, in particular the films of Douglas Sirk.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Played with. Cathy and Raymond's fling is the "good" one, but even though Frank's is technically "bad", it's presented sympathetically due to his struggling with his homosexuality.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Cathy and Frank eventually agree to a divorce so he could embrace his sexuality and find happiness with a man he loves and for Cathy to find happiness with Raymond.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Cathy, who is straight, with her husband Frank, who is a closeted homosexual.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Frank attempts to make love with Cathy only to be unable to become aroused.
  • Manly Tears: Frank breaks down upon telling Cathy that he's fallen in love with another man, swearing to her that he genuinely tried to "make it go away" so as to preserve their family.
  • Retraux: Set in The '50s, this movie imitates the look and feel of movies produced back then, specifically the melodramas of Douglas Sirk — the plot is almost lifted from All That Heaven Allows. The score is by Elmer Bernstein, who composed music for several famous films in the '50s.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: A musical adaptation with book by Richard Greenberg, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie opened off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons on June 2, 2013 until July 7, 2013 starring Kelli O'Hara as Cathy Whitaker, Steven Pasquale as Frank, and Isaiah Johnson. as Raymond Deagan.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: At the film's conclusion, Cathy is wearing a suit with a pencil skirt rather than the puffy swing skirts and dresses she's worn throughout the film, implying that she's developing into a more independent woman.
  • Stepford Smiler: Cathy. She babbles on about random nonsense after catching her husband with another man and won't even get upset after he accidentally hits her. This makes the scene where she bawls her eyes out after losing Frank and Raymond all the more wrenching.
  • Stepford Suburbia: And how. Everything and everyone in this town looks absolutely perfect, but Frank and Cathy's marriage is miserable due to his homosexuality, and the supposedly liberal townspeople are bigoted.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: Between Cathy and Raymond. No words are even spoken, she just gets there in time to see the train pulling away and exchange a goodbye wave with him.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Despite an incredibly strong attraction, Cathy and Raymond never even kiss.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Frank has been frequently exploring the underground world of gay bars according to the police.