Rating: PG-13 for mild language, adult situations
Run Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes
Writer/director Todd Haynes (“Velvet Goldmine”) presents his most ambitious project to date, subtly scraping the shellac off the façade of a blissful, 1950s marriage.
Behind the manicured
lawns of domestic
Piling scandal onto scandal, a privately bereft Cathy finds comfort in meaningful encounters with her erudite gardener, Raymond (Dennis Haysbert). As a friendship slowly develops, small-town tongues start to wag. Raymond is black, and fraternizing with people of color is Just Not Done.
Haynes goes out on a limb to make his point, sometimes in inches but more often miles. The wholesomeness of the affluent American home and decent American values is exaggerated to a fault, all “gee-whiz” and “jiminy” and “your slippers and a cocktail, dear”? Period clothes and set design are a riot of color, illuminating the contradiction of intolerance and squeaky-clean Eisenhower-era perfection.
By all means let’s celebrate the quintessential women’s films, the good-old American soap-opera, and the sugar-coated tolerance of a demanding decade. Todd Haynes has created an elegant and understated film, and I admire him for the effort.