Director: Todd Haynes
Cast: Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert
When celebrating LGBT History Month, I have to go straight to my Todd Haynes collection, to find a film that brightens even the most grey and miserable winter months- brimming with rich, vibrant colours, the award-winning Far from Heaven starring Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, and Dennis Haysbert.
Set in 1950s Connecticut, Far From Heaven centres around “Cathy Whitaker” (Julianne Moore), who is the picture perfect, socially esteemed suburban housewife of a successful advertising executive (Dennis Quaid). With a beautiful home, two happy children and surrounded by like-minded friends, Cathy glides through life unperturbed by issues bigger than where to find a caterer for her next party.
However, very quickly Cathy’s world is rocked by twinned-revelations: Her husband Frank (Dennis Quaid) has been leading a “secret life” looking for intimacy that he doesn’t desire from his wife, frequenting bars and clubs to meet men, while Cathy has simultaneously found herself drawn to her black gardener Raymond Deacon (Dennis Haysbert). Both characters have to face a choice of whether to go with their hearts or submit to the external pressure of keeping up appearances. Heart-wrenchingly powerful, the two fight to keep the marriage on track, but cannot turn their backs on what actually makes them happy. Frank especially finds it difficult, and event seeks out a therapist specialising in helping people to resist homosexual temptation, as existed at the time that the film is set. This underlying hope that he could actually live his life in the way that he wants to is still ever-present however, and makes for fascinating viewing.
Absolutely a melodrama, this film spoke to me about forbidden love on such a deep level, that it’s impressed me more than other films of covering LGBT issues. Excepting Carol (Haynes’ latest), this still is on my top list for not just LGBT film but film in general, with it’s clever throw-back to 1950s cinema, Haynes’ allows us to feel nostalgic whilst also reminding us that these issues are mainstream issues, and should be treated as such.