Heaven should have been entitled Far From Reality. It is an ignorant,
false, bigoted, boring, pretentious film that could have been made by
Eisenstein in the Kremlin under Joseph Stalin in 1938.
directed by Todd Haynes, it’s a maladroit, amateurish diatribe
against America in general, and Caucasians in particular.
The leading lady, Cathy Whitaker (boorishly played by Julianne
Moore, who has appeared for Haynes before) is a nincompoop.
She turns the other cheek when she discovers that her husband,
Frank Whitaker (Dennis Quaid), is having homosexual affairs (big
surprise, huh?). Frank is an equally unrealistic character, seemingly a
successful businessman, yet all we ever see is him wallowing about his
predicament, or in the arms of some of his male lovers.
Their children are automatons (“brush your teeth” “yes
Filmed in annoying
pastels, the movie is so far removed from life in the ‘50s that it
never makes any impact whatever.
It is simply a left-wing polemic that destroys itself by its
falsity. The story is
that these people are supposed to be the typical American family in
Hartford, Connecticut, in
1957. They are surrounded
by their friends, all of whom are mindless bigots (about race, that
is; apparently Frank’s homosexual dalliances are of no concern, an
attitude that would have been totally uncharacteristic in the ‘50s).
Haynes has chosen to make the Whitaker’s gardener, Raymond
Deegan (Dennis Haysbert), an African-American, the never-complaining
hero figure. Even though
he’s working as a gardener, he speaks as if he has been educated at
Choate and Harvard. Nothing
against gardeners, but I’ve never heard a gardener speak proper
English, much less the neo-Shakespearean perfection uttered by
Raymond. He’s Sidney Poitier and Cary Grant and Gary Cooper all
rolled into one superhuman guy. He
never loses his temper. He’s
handsome, wise, kind, and understanding.
He harbors no bigotry, unlike all the people around him. He
doesn’t react when his daughter is viciously attacked.
He bears no resentment at the bigotry aimed at him.
This man is Superman.
befriends Cathy, who is an airhead’s airhead if there ever was one
(but she’s pictured by Haynes as being typical).
By god is she a trooper. She
accepts Frank’s dalliances and drinking and self-pity with nary a
worry or care and continues on to be the perfect homemaker.
She suffers the slings and arrows of the gossip of her bigoted
friends without any concern or self-pity
of her own. Cathy matches
Raymond in her non-judgmental perfection.
comes from both sides. The whites don’t like a white woman being seen with a black
man. The blacks don’t
like a black man being seen with a white woman. Apparently, according
to Haynes, all Americans in the ‘50s were bigots, except Cathy and
Raymond, that is.
born in 1961. He displays
that he knows nothing about the ‘50s and that he doesn’t care.
This guy isn’t trying to tell us what it was like to live in
the ‘50s. He’s trying
to create a world that never existed and get others who didn’t live
through it to believe that it was the way he has created, not the way
it really was. It’s
said that the people who make the history are the people who write it.
Facts are irrelevant. And,
clearly, Haynes doesn’t care about what it was really like in the
‘50s. He wants to present a totally biased picture, and that’s
what he’s done.
Heaven is dishonest propaganda at its worst, and most clumsy. Frankly,
it’s the clumsiness that’s so offensive.
It was the clumsiness that made the Soviet film industry so
laughable, and it’s the clumsiness that makes this film so absurd.
Never have I seen more unrealistically idealized heroes
(outside of Alexander Nevsky) than Raymond and Cathy.
If Haynes had any talent, like some in the notorious Hollywood
Ten had, he’d be able to get his philosophy across subtly without
smacking you in the face with
Too make matters
much worse this inept film is terminally boring.
It makes one hour 47 minutes seem unending.