Far From Heaven Todd Haynes

Far From Heaven Todd Haynes
Most overt exercises in film formalism — from Gus Van Sant's shot-by-shot Psycho remake to Peyton Reed's recent piece of Pillow Talk fluff, Down With Love — end up as just exercises by filmmakers too aware of the cleverness of the inherent joke. What makes Todd Haynes' remarkable Far From Heaven work is that an audience could have zero awareness of what comprised a '50 melodrama, or who Douglas Sirk was, and still find themselves emotionally entranced by this truly compelling narrative. It's the story of an enviable housewife (Julianne Moore) with a successful husband (Dennis Quaid) who nevertheless finds her life unravelling, triggered by her attraction to her gardener (Dennis Haysbert) and her husband's secret gay desires. It is both of Douglas Sirk's time and beyond it — thematically, it resembles the "crises" chronicled in his and other so-called "woman's films" of the time — yet it both transcends the era and resonates in our own. The DVD is a showcase of detail-oriented filmmaking — there was probably more time spent discussing colour schemes and furniture than Haynes spent writing a draft of the script. It pays off in every detail; it's so perfect, you just forget it and allow yourself to be immersed in this world. Haynes' commentary is a graduate course in Sirk and other filmmakers like Max Ophuls; the "Anatomy of a Scene" featurette dissects a particularly pivotal moment; while "The Making of Far From Heaven" gives greater context to how this marvellous looking film was realised. Of the extras, only the "Filmmaker's Experience" Q&A with Haynes and Moore is disappointingly short. But like the best DVDs, these extras are secondary to the marvel of the work itself, and all the analysis just leads you back to its spectacular source. Extras: director's commentary, "The Making of Far From Heaven," "Anatomy of a Scene," "A Filmmaker's Experience with Julianne Moore and Todd Haynes." (Alliance Atlantis)