Beautiful, talented Ms. Julianne Moore received her fourth Oscar nomination for playing Cathy Whitaker, a woman who finds out that her husband is cheating on her with other men in Todd Haynes' acclaimed movie, Far from Heaven. I'm pretty sure that if you had asked anyone in 2002 who was going to take home the Best Actress Oscar, they would have said Julianne Moore. She literally swept the critics' awards, however things changed when she lost the Globe and SAG. After that it was all about Nicole and Renée.
Melodrama is not really, my genre as I think they are too over-the-top with emotions and they just really do not give that much to me. That's partly true for the case of Far from Heaven, but it's actually quite well-made, well-directed and brilliantly acted movie. It's score is beautiful and I would even give it the win if The Hours hadn't been nominated. Dennis Quaid gives an excellent performance as the husband and probably would have deserved an Oscar nomination for his work. Same goes for Patricia Clarkson and Dennis Haysbert, who are also very memorable.
What I said in my review of Diane Lane, it's also true here. Far from Heaven is The Julianne Moore Show. But is that a problem? No, a definite NO. Moore probably gives here the performance of a lifetime and I really don't think that she can ever top this achievement of hers (though she got close with The Hours and Boogie Nights). Moore is the greatest and most interesting actress of her generation and her versatility is astonishing. Even when she has a role that is quite similar to another one of hers, she can work wonders.
Cathy is a multi-layered and very complicated character which is very difficult to play, but this does not seem to be a problem for Ms. Moore. She totally captured the heart of this ordinary, perfect 50s housewife. Contrary to Laura Brown, Cathy actually IS happy with this lifestyle, she's deeply satisfied. Or just seems to be. Moore is mindblowing in the scene where her husband does not want to make love because he's so tired. Julianne shows so much love and understanding right there.
It's marvellous how well Julianne understands the sould of Cathy. She thinks that she's perfectly happy, but she starts to feel something she never did before. Also, Moore injects so much poetry, fire and music into her, that she made me feel dizzy (well, almost). I felt that this excellent was going through my brain and my soul. In other words: I felt immediate connection to Cathy.
When she finds out that her husband is a homosexual, her only reaction in her shock is saying, where the bills are (or something, never mind). She loves her husband very much and desperately wants to help him and not for selfish reasons. The priorty for her is family and that's what Moore lets us know from her. However, when she starts to enjoy herself with the gardener, a new Cathy is born and more fascinatingly goes through these changes and never misses an opportunity to amaze us.
Her huge scene when her husband wants to get a divorce is immense. She says almost nothing, but her face and her tears are so utterly real and heartbreaking. I guess this movie was intended to make people sob and I don't think it failed. That's mostly because of the brilliance of the great Ms. Moore.
As I said a new Cathy is born when she befriends the gardener, but I must also mention that Moore does not only nail all the faces of her, but perfectly portrays the mixed emotions of this character. She perfectly shows how much Cathy does not really understand what's going on, all she knows that she's happy this way.
Though she does not have any loud, over-the-top scenes (OK she shouts once) she has the effect of an atomic bomb on you. The beauty of her performance is just as heartbreaking as it was in Audrey Hepburn's perfect turn in The Nun's Story. They are so similar in the type of acting and the effect, despite the fact that the two roles are very different. Well, if I think about it not that much. They are both women who think that they love what they do, but in fact it's not what they HAVE to do.
So to sum up this rave review, I must say that Julianne Moore gives one of the greatest, most moving and beautiful performances that I have ever seen. I don't really like the world revelation as I think sometimes it's used without a reason, but here Moore's achievement in this movie is worthy of that term. She's totally heart- and gutwrenching, moving and will haunt you for a long time (I saw it first in April, but I could have written this same review without rewatching as it lived in me so much). And that train station scene! Oh gosh!
Wow this was a bit lengthier than I like to do usually, but I just couldn't stop raving. :) Comments anyone? To see Far from Heaven click here. I hope it works.