All That Heaven Allows

All That Heaven Allows ★★★★½

Douglas Sirk and the masterclass of melodrama. I've always wanted to get into some of Sirk's work but until now have just been preoccupied with other films. The usual saying for a film fanatic "So many films, so little time". However ever since exploring renowned German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder (who quickly became one of my favorites) and discovering some of his biggest influences have come from none other than Sirk, well I just had to eventually see for myself. This is basically the original version to Fassbinder's film (a quasi-remake of sorts) 'Ali: Fear Eats the Soul'. Now Fassbinder is still very much an experimental director in style but you can see his substance does reflect melodramatic form that is commonly associated with Douglas Sirk. But I will have to see more of Sirk's work to get a better view on that topic.

'All That Heaven Allows' is extremely rich in color and vibrancy. If all of Sirk's films contain this similar visual style and color palette then you can count me in. The brightness and hue in some scenes gave it a dream like effect. It also helps when you have great shot placement to enlighten some of these bits. Sirk seems good at this. He places the actors at specific parts of the room, near windows or fireplaces for lighting purposes. He contrasts them with the brightness of the snow and becomes visual expressive with the way he makes them face one another or the way Rock stands behind Wyman gazing out the window. All of this strikes a keen emotional effect in the viewer regardless of plot.

This is how his melodrama plays out so effectively on its audience. He knows how to set it up despite the script. Even the music heightens the intensity of emotion in some scenes but in a sincere fashion and not manipulative like one would think. This film is heartfelt and proud, it does not need to manipulate to get its point across. It's message is one of pure beauty. We should not be defined by the society we inhabit nor put value in the gossip of others. We should be true to ourselves in the best way possible and not put importance into unimportant matters. And above all do not let anything get in the way of being happy and loving the one you care for the most.

This all sounds very sentimental and it truly is but certainly not in a flawed manner. 'All That Heaven Allows' is sentimental in the way that relates most to real life. There is no fluff here. The core of its story is one that would have all of its members of the audience looking deep inside themselves. It is a genuine and completely universal love story.