All That Heaven Allows

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

A deer enters the scene during the final image, as if to suggest that this union of widow Cary Scott (Jane Wyman) and Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson), her former gardener turned tree farmer, has been enshrined by God and Nature. Melodrama is a genre uniquely capable of fashioning such transcendental pairings, couples that simply must be together, and Sirk cultivates images of his couple that take them out of the coarse, material world and raise them up, turning them into icons, situating them in tableaux that would be familiar to the great religious painters of the Renaissance. He will either join them together against a natural backdrop of some sort, the kind that evokes the pastoralia of the great Romantic poets, painters, and composers as well as the rugged but tender pantheistic mysticism of American transcendentalism, or he will push in and make the background disappear altogether, capturing the most sensitive intimacies between Wyman and Hudson—the very kind that make you wonder if any of the crew members spontaneously shed tears during filming, blessing the set with their tears. You imagine that if, in these moments, Sirk pulled his camera back to a long shot, Wyman and Hudson might be levitating ever so slightly off the ground like nearly martyred 20th century saints.