Monday, September 10, 2012

889. SAFE (1995)


Running Time: 119 minutes
Directed By: Todd Haynes
Written By: Todd Haynes
Main Cast: Julianne Moore, Peter Friedman, Xander Berkeley, April Grace, Lorna Scott

"ARE YOU ALLERGIC TO THE 20th CENTURY?"

Well, I didn't think I was going to make it back here until tomorrow, however, after work today I didn't feel too shabby, so I decided to take in a movie. This time around I took a look at Todd Haynes' one and only film from THE BOOK - "Safe".


The film revolves around Carol White (Moore), a suburban homemaker who lives in a very plastic, material world. Carol is married to Greg (Berkeley) and has a stepson Rory and spends her days picking up dry cleaning, getting her hair and nails done, going to aerobics class and visiting her other, homemaker friends. One day, while driving in the car, Carol inhales some fumes from a passing truck and begins to cough violently, pulling into a parking garage until her spell ceases. Slowly, she starts to develop more symptoms: a rash, nose bleeds, vomiting, migraines and asthma-like symptoms. A visit to the doctor solves nothing, as the doctor tells her "if anything, she's too healthy" and refers her to a psychiatrist, citing that her problem is merely mental and nothing more. The psychiatrist makes no progress with Carol, however, when leaving the gym one afternoon, Carol notices a flyer that reads; "Do you smell fumes?" and underneath that; "Are you allergic to the 20th century?". Carol eventually diagnoses herself as being allergic to the chemicals around her, be it exhaust fumes from a tractor trailer, air fresheners or basic air pollution. She begins wearing a mask on her face at all times and carrying oxygen with her, to help her breathe, but this only seems to somewhat help her problems. After Carol has a violent seizure while picking up her dry cleaners, she decides that it's time to take drastic action, which she does by moving to Wrenwood - a retreat that is designed to help people cope with sickness that is caused by the world around them.


For those curious, "Safe" IS NOT available on Netflix, however, as I'm writing this, the entire movie is available on YouTube, so if you're curious or interested, go check it out. I certainly wouldn't advise against it, as "Safe" is a very interesting movie with a home run performance from Julianne Moore. I promise you that if you've never seen "Safe", then you've never seen Julianne Moore at her best. As for the film itself, I have a feeling that it will grow on me even more with the passing of time, but as for now, I'd call it a "very good" offering from Todd Haynes. The film is a little bizarre and almost reads like a horror film, complete with a very creepy, dark score that lingers in the background and really pipes up when the shit's about to hit the fan. As written above, Moore plays a woman who ultimately convinces herself that she's allergic to the world around her. It's a very interesting, unique idea and one that, even in the nineties, would've shown a lot of originality.


So is Carol really sick or is it all in her head? Well, that's the big mystery of the film and Todd Haynes neither confirms or denies either point. I saw a woman who was sick before she started coughing and throwing up. I saw a woman who was a very little more than a robot, going through her days so routinely that she barely was even allowed to think for herself. At the beginning of the film, her husband makes love to her and actually, I thought she was supposed to be playing a prostitute, because everything pointed to a man having sex with a hooker. The scene was void of love or emotion, especially from Greg. At the end, Carol reaches up to kiss Greg's cheek, trying to apply a little bit of emotion to their very emotionless act, but he wants none of that. Beyond that, Carol does her aerobics everyday, barely raises her voice, doesn't curse, visits her fellow housewives and has very typical, straight laced conversations. Moore also plays Carol very awkward in social situations, as there isn't a single scene of Carol's in the film where you can't actually feel how uncomfortable she is when in the presence of another. Another thing Haynes does that really captured my attention is used a lot of wide shots to show Carol as a very lonely woman, putting her in a room, alone, with the big, scary world surrounding her. Then Carol gets sick and you, as the viewer, start to ask questions and become very intrigued by the story, as Haynes keeps it very interesting and you're left wanting to know what's up with her, whether she's really sick, if it's all mental or if she's just making it all up. Sure, things get a little over the top when she goes to Wrenwood and she's subject to a very cult-like environment, but it's nothing TOO out of control and Haynes never lost my attention. He hooked me, provided me with a very dark, yet modern day environment and then told me a story and it all worked in the end. Do yourself a favor and go check this out on YouTube before they yank it down.

RATING: 7/10  Lets leave it at that for now and I'll stew on it until RECAP time. Sorry for the below average review. I've been up since 3:45am and at this point I'm basically running on fumes.

MOVIES WATCHED: 523
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 478

September 10, 11:02pm

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