Like Douglas Sirk (All That Heaven Allows), whose lush Technicolor weepies served as inspiration, director Todd Haynes (Safe) doesn't define melodrama as "overdone" or "overblown," but according to its strict Latin components: as a union between music (melos) and drama. Accordingly, he hired one of Hollywood's most respected composers, Elmer Bernstein (The Sweet Smell of Success, The Man With the Golden Arm), to provide the all-important soundtrack for Far From Heaven. In the film, fashionable mother/homemaker Cathy Whitaker is played by Julianne Moore. Dennis Quaid is her ad exec husband, Frank, while Dennis Haysbert (the president on TV's 24) is Raymond, the sympathetic black gardener Cathy turns to when her picture-perfect life starts to come undone. The score begins and ends with a similar cue; both "Autumn in Connecticut," where the film is set, and "Beginnings" rely on piano for most of their emotional impact. The distinctive (but never overbearing) cue is repeated throughout, with other instruments (like violin) coming to the fore. There are a few playful detours along the way. "Cathy and Raymond Dance," for instance, appears to be a riff on "As Time Goes By," while "Miami" has a light samba feel. Like the film itself, Bernstein's score never sounds like a parody of 1950s melodramas, but much like the genuine article, and Far From Heaven ranks among his very best work.
AllMusic Review by Kathleen C. Fennessy
|Far From Heaven, film score|