This was Hayne's first (and to this day only) exploration in to racism and the taboos of interracial relationships during a time when it wasn’t really possible. Drawing inspiration from Rock Hudson and Jane Wayman in All That Heaven Allows (a love story about an older woman and a much younger man), Haynes took that story and replaced age with race, similar to what Fassbinder did with Ali: Fear Eats The Soul. And the fact that Far From Heaven, a film partially about repressed homosexuality in the 1950's, is a loose adaptation of a movie that starred Roc Hudson kind of adds an additional subconcious layer to the movie's atmosphere.
Far From Heaven is pretty to look at, features great (and underrated) performances from Dennis Quiad and Dennis Haysbert, and it references the work and overall style of great filmmakers like Fassbinder and Douglass Sirk. And at the end of the day Far From Heaven is one of the few “mainstream” films to try and bridge the gap between race & homosexuality.
|Opening & Closing Credits from Far From Heaven (L) and All That Heaven Allows (R)|
Not only does Todd Haynes pay homage to Douglass Sirk's use of rich, bright colors (All That Heaven Allows), but he blends the actors in to the environment. Notice the red train train lights in the background behind Julianne Moore (wearing her red jacket and gloves) or her hair and how it kinda blends in to the background, as well as Dennis Haysbert's jacket and how it subtly camouflages him in with the leaves...
Frank is a little more complicated (both in a good way and a bad way). Todd Haynes took the stereotypical American male who occasionally slaps his wife when she gets outta line and made him gay. Technically Dennis Quaid is "A-list" and has been in his share of great movies but when you think of your favorite actors, chances are his name isn’t going to come up these days. Far From Heaven is by far his greatest performance. And it goes beyond the fact that a straight actor stepped outside of his comfort zone and portrayed someone gay. There's plenty examples of gay performances that were a bit overrated just because they were portrayed by straight actors but Quaid was great. His aggression, his repression, the scene at the end when he breaks down and cries in front of his family...everything. All that stuff I liked very much. But at the end of the day he's portrayed as a spineless snake (especially in the last scene when he talks to Cathy on the phone). I know it wasn’t Todd Haynes' intention to show a gay person in that light (after all, he's openly gay), but is this homophobic world we live in that already hates gay people to begin with ready for such a spineless, cowardly gay character? That’s all homophobic people need to fuel their ignorance.