Thursday, June 1, 2017

Safe Movie Review

Safe (1995)
Buy Safe on Amazon
Written by: Todd Haynes
Directed by: Todd Haynes
Starring: Julianne Moore, Xander Berkeley, Dean Norris
Rated: R

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

Everyday environmental toxins begin making suburban housewife Carol increasingly ill.

This is a subtle movie that will make you question everything in your vicinity, from what you consume to how you interact with the environment. It taps into the underlying fears of mortality and not being able to find a cure or even a diagnosis. Your death is imminent and there is nothing you can do about it but remain in prisoner of the world.
Watch it.

Moore and Haynes would later work together on a more main stream movie, Far from Heaven (2002) (read my review).

Carol begins to get symptoms, rashes and a cough. It's dismissed as allergies at first, and I almost wish I didn't know the premise. Without knowing the premise you'd wonder if this is in her head.
Daily life has become literally unbearable. No longer can she complete her daily tasks.
Any kind of chemical affects her, leading to nose bleeds and trouble breathing. It makes you think about whats around you. We interact with toxins all the time. That new car smell is off gassing of plastics and the glue in the carpet. As with many allergens, exposure can eventually lead to a reaction. The world has become a prison for Carol.

We see the monotony of Carol's life, and I felt a disconnect. This is shot at a distance, making it feel cold. While Carol seems content with life, surely she can't be, at least the framing suggests that. It creates an unsettling mood because I wanted to believe Carol felt trapped despite it not being implicitly stated. Is her illness a way to escape this life, a reaction to this life, or is she truly ill.

She goes to a commune with people that share her illness. The leader of the commune has AIDS. This is a direct corollary with a weakened immune system and common interactions posing a problem. The connection is clear but it doesn't go anywhere. Carol is secluded from the world and relatively safe, but she's still imprisoned. The world is still fatal.

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