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Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Sometimes... your world gets turned upside down. People turn out to be not who you thought they were. Maybe you turn out to be not who you thought you were, or people find out that you're not who they thought you were. Suddenly nothing is the way it was, and you have to adjust the way you think and act.

Sometimes... something happens that makes you question your most deeply held beliefs. In a second, everything you thought was right turns out to be wrong, or at least inadequate to deal with new complexities that you were simply unaware of. In a heartbeat, you can learn something that would have changed the choices you've made, or you can learn that those choices were actually made for you. You've learned something about yourself, or something about your place in the world.

Sometimes... you feel as if you and only you can see through hypocrisy. It's revealed to you in sudden clarity that many people are afraid of the truth, so they lie. They lie to themselves most of all, but then they lie to everyone else, even those closest to them. They can't help it, or they can but don't think they can, or they can but have too much to lose. The convenient lie becomes easier than the liberating truth. The lie is spread throughout society and passed along through time.

Sometimes... civility disguises something so ugly that the tiniest crack can bring down everyone around it. Rules of social engagement become more important than real human connection. What seems to be a placid nexus of graciousness and manners masks a vicious system of hate and intolerance. Politeness forces you to fit into a world where you don't fit, and to say things you don't mean, and to hide what you feel and who you are. You choose politeness, or you choose to be ostracized, an outsider in the life you've been leading.

Sometimes... you try. You do the best you can, and your world still gets turned upside down. Whatever you do seems to be taken wrong, misjudged, or judged so harshly that you're ashamed even when you know you're doing the right thing. You have to monitor your own feelings and actions constantly, or face impossible consequences. Either you learn to hate yourself, or you break away and decide that freedom is worth the risk, and life is worth embracing on your own terms.

Sometimes... a movie comes along that forces you to think about these things, and in the end makes you realize that for all the confusion and commotion living free brings us, it's better than the alternative. Far From Heaven shows us how far we've come, and it makes us wonder how far we can still go. It brings the deadness of the 1950s to life, through the eyes of a woman who sees beyond the fašade.




gray sunset

A gray February sunset.



I'll give you an example of how amazing Julianne Moore is in this role. On the way home tonight, Mom and I discussed what her character's options might be, and what we thought she'd do next.

It seemed a bleak prospect in some ways, but for a woman enlightened by experience, living on the cusp of the sixties, I'd like to believe that things turned out well for her. She was as brave as she was allowed to be in 1958. If she carried that courage forward ten years, she probably found a way to help change what she'd learned was wrong in the world.




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The look of Far From Heaven is the look of a fifties movie, with a golden glow cast over everything. The feel is of a fifties melodrama, from the titles all the way to the musical score, which at times swells with passion and at others is playful and suggestive. The performances of Dennis Quaid and Dennis Haysbert are as stunning in their own way as Julianne Moore's portrayal. The movie is more subtle and controlled than anything I've seen recently in this age of blatancy and excess.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.


One year ago: Too Close
"I guess I'm willing to entertain the possibility that I'm wrong and the judges are right. (Okay, I've entertained that idea and sent it packing.)"


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