In 2002, director Todd Haynes reunited with his favorite actress Julianne Moore for the melodrama “Far from Heaven”. During filming, the need to conceal the pregnancy of the actress requires a lot of effort from some members of the production.
far from paradise : a sublime melodrama
After their meeting on Safe and before their reunion on The Museum of Wonders and May-DecemberJulianne Moore and Todd Haynes collaborate on far from paradise. Melodrama with which the filmmaker fully assumes wanting to do a film to “make you cry”which provokes amused reactions across the Atlantic from journalists who think they detect an irony that does not exist, the feature film is a magnificent tribute to the work of Douglas Sirkand more particularly to the sublime All that heaven allows.
far from paradise is reminiscent of its model with its slick aesthetics and shimmering autumnal photography, like carol will later recall the paintings of Edward Hopper, but also by its synopsis, centered on an impossible love story. The film takes place in the 1950s, in Connecticut. A model housewife, Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore) leads a comfortable existence with her husband Frank (Dennis Quaid), who holds an important position. If their life seems perfect, the heroine’s daily life changes when she discovers that her husband is having an affair with a man.
Frank ends up leaving the marital home, leaving Cathy distraught. Despite everything, she tries not to let anything show through and finds comfort in her African-American gardener Raymond (Dennis Haysbert), with whom she shares a passion for painting. But their complicity is talked about a lot and they are subjected to racist comments and attitudes.
Patricia Clarkson and Viola Davis complete the cast of this heartbreaking drama about Puritan and devastating mores. In 2003, the film was nominated for four Oscars (Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Original Music) but left empty-handed. far from paradise done on the other hand a triumph at the Venice Film Festivalwhere Todd Haynes, Julianne Moore and cinematographer Edward Lachman are rewarded.
A complicated project to finance
In an interview given to IndieWire in 2009, Todd Haynes explains to have “never had enough money” to make his films. Due to the ambition of the feature film, its reconstruction and its extremely elaborate artistic direction, the production of far from paradise with a meager budget of $14 million is proving complicated. He says about this:
It was really very hard. When I work, I work harder than anyone I know. I’m obsessive, self-destructive and can’t sleep. For far from paradise, this working method was supported by excellent creative alliances. I remember for example that we did a lot of work the first week. (…) There was this awesome, exhilarating feeling, and everyone – no matter where they were in the production – tuned into this crazy speed.
Concealing Julianne Moore’s Pregnancy
The filmmaker can notably count on the talent and meticulousness of costume designer Sandy Powellwinner of three Oscars for her work on Shakespeare in Love, Airman and Victoria: The Young Years of a Queen. The latter, for example, recreates an outfit almost identical to that of Rock Hudson in All Heaven Allows for the character of Raymond, played by Dennis Haysbert. She also manages to conceal the pregnancy of Julianne Moore, so pregnant with her daughter Liv.
During an interview given to Movie Monthly in 2002, the actress assures us that her pregnancy was more stressful for Sandy Powell than for her during the filming:
It was especially difficult for Sandy Powell, our costume designer. If she had been there, she would have complained loudly about the amount of work. It was really painful for them because I changed from week to week. But from my point of view, being pregnant is something normal. Producer Christine Vachon said the team drove her crazy: ‘Oh she’s going to be tired…’. Most women work when they’re pregnant, so it’s not much. It was even good, because being pregnant is so boring that it was good to have something to not think about.
Quoted by IndieWire in 2009 following a question and answer session at the London Film Festival, Julianne Moore amusingly recounted that Todd Haynes dared not look at his baby bump :
I told Todd I was pregnant right before the shoot. He was very…