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Far From Heaven

Kl Studio Classics // PG-13 // March 19, 2019
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted April 8, 2019 | E-mail the Author



http-equiv="content-type">
Far From Heaven Blu-ray Review


Far From Heaven is
an affecting
period-drama from acclaimed writer and director Todd Haynes (Carol,
I'm Not There). The film is centered around the
personal
trials and tribulations of Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore) and Frank
Whitaker (Dennis Quaid), a married couple going through difficult
times as their relationship begins to change. Set against the
backdrop of the ever-changing American landscape during the 1950's,
Far From Heaven is a low-key and intimate portrait
about the
lives of many Americans. It is executive produced by Steven
Soderbergh (Traffic, Unsane).


Cathy and Frank begin to
face
difficulties in their relationship as it becomes clear that there are
issues facing their companionship beneath the surface. Frank is
struggling with his repressed homosexuality and his desire for men
while still loving his wife, Cathy. Meanwhile, Cathy starts to have
feelings for gardener Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert), an issue
which is further-complicated by not just her marriage but the fact
that he is African-American.


It doesn't take long for
gossip to
spread across the town. Close friends take a notice of what is going
on between Cathy and Raymond. Eleanor Fine (Patricia Clarkson),
Cathy's best friend, is horrified by the rumors and tries to dismiss
them as quickly as she hears murmurs. And behind-doors, Cathy is
still in shock by finding out about her husband's homosexuality and
tries to get him to go to gay conversion therapy.


The film explores many
complex themes
from gender identity (what roles men and women play in their
relationships and in society), sexuality (how homosexuality was
viewed during the 1950's and also the views on interracial
relationships), and societal issues about wage and worker
discrepancies. These themes and concepts are well explored and
developed throughout the screenplay and filmmaking.


This was the last film
scored by the
brilliant Elmer Bernstein (Ghostbusters, style="font-weight: normal;">Sweet
Smell of Success
). It's a beautiful score which
manages to
grip hold without letting go. The music has a quietly melancholic
vibe that evokes many emotions. The cinematography by Edward Lachman
(The Virgin Suicides, The Limey)
uses color in a rather
meticulous way to emphasis the emotional center of each scene. The
cinematography is brilliantly realized with the color grading making
a profound impact on the tone of the story.


The production design by
Mark Friedberg
(The Darjeeling Limited, Broken Flowers)
does an
effective job of realizing this 1950's storyline with a degree of
authenticity that isn't easy to duplicate. Combine with the elegant
costumes by Sandy Powell (The Favourite, The
Young
Victoria
) and you have a true winner as a period-recreation.


Todd Haynes has made a
quiet gem of a
film with Far From Heaven. There's just something
magical
about it. It's a story about serious issues and themes yet it
recognizes that the so-often idyllic portrait painted of 1950's
America is just that... an idealized portrait. This film paints a
story with authenticity which is not easy to ignore.


color="#222222">The
Blu-ray:




Video:


Far From Heaven
arrives on
Blu-ray from Kino with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation. The
film is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1
widescreen.


Having wondered when it
would arrive on
the format for several years, it's nice that a label decided to
finally do something with this underappreciated film. Unfortunately,
while the release offers a minor upgrade in detail the release still
leaves one feeling disappointed by the lackluster effort which went
into the film's photographic presentation.


The presentation suffers
from baked in
DNR (digital noise reduction) and edge enhancement. This is quite
unfortunate as the cinematography itself is quite beautiful. Colors
are somewhat muted but are still significantly better than the old
DVD and offer a noticeable boost in color reproduction. This release
ultimately feels heavily dated and like it was taken from the same
source which was used to produce the original DVD (and with no
updates or alterations from that source). That's a shame. The film
could have looked so much better if handled properly with love and
care for a restoration.


Audio:


The audio is presented with
lossless
5.1 surround sound and 2.0 stereo DTS-HD Master Audio. The audio is
nothing to swoon over on this release. The one area in which it feels
like a noticeably nice upgrade is in the quality for the music score
by Elmer Bernstein. Dialogue sounds clean and clear. However, sonic
fidelity feels a bit limited and the film lacks much emphasis for the
surround sound.


style="margin-bottom: 0in; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal;">
English SDH subtitles (for the deaf
and hard of
hearing) are also provided.




Extras:


This release includes a
number of
previously released bonus features from the original DVD release. The
extras have been ported over to be included on the new Blu-ray.


Includes:


Audio Commentary
with Director
Todd Haynes


The Making of Far
From Heaven

(SD, 12 min.)


Anatomy of a Scene
Featurette

(SD, 28 min.) is a full-length episode from the Sundance channel
about the film.


A Filmmaker's
Experience with
Julianne Moore and Todd Haynes
(SD, 5 min.) features director
and
leading actress at a sit-down discussion about the film and their
artistic process.


Theatrical Trailer
for Far
From Heaven
and trailers for other Kino classic releases.


Final Thoughts:


color="#222222">Far
From Heaven

is a terrific film with
a great performance from Julianne Moore. Writer-director Todd Haynes
has crafted a beautiful film made with sensitivity and with a sense
of purpose. The story has so much to say about the nature of being
human.


color="#222222">The
Blu-ray release from Kino is just a minor upgrade, though.
Unfortunately, the release features a dated transfer which doesn't
impress. Fans might wish to upgrade but keep expectations in check.


Recommended.



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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