Far from Heaven marks the second teaming of leading lady Julianne Moore with writer/director Todd Haynes and producer Christine Vachon, following the trio's collaboration on the acclaimed 1995 drama Safe. At the 2002 Venice International Film Festival, Far from Heaven was honored with the Coppa Volpi Award for Best Actress (Julianne Moore) and the Individual Contribution Award (given to cinematographer Edward Lachman).
Far from Heaven tells the story of a privileged housewife in 1950s America, and is inspired by the great Hollywood dramas of that era. Haynes lovingly depicts the gorgeous and placid surfaces of mid-century suburban family life, even as his story breaks them open to reveal a repressed world of limitless emotions and life-shattering desires that cross the boundaries of racial and sexual tolerance with tragic results.
It is the fall of 1957. The Whitakers, the very picture of a suburban family, make their home in Hartford, Connecticut. Their daily existences are characterized by carefully observed family etiquette, social events, and an overall desire to keep up with the Joneses. Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore) is the homemaker, wife and mother. Frank Whitaker (Dennis Quaid) is the breadwinner, husband and father. They have two pre-teen children, a boy and a girl. As the story unfolds before us, Cathy's pristine world is transformed. Her interactions with her gardener, Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert); her best friend, Eleanor Fine (Patricia Clarkson); and her maid, Sybil (Viola Davis), reflect the upheavals in her life. Cathy is faced with choices that spur gossip within the community and change several lives forever.