All That Heaven Allows ★★★★

"Does it matter that much?"
"It shouldn't…"

I don't know why it's taken me 16 years since Far From Heaven (still one of my all-time faves though it's been almost as long since I last watched it) to watch this*. I understand Todd Haynes was also influenced by Imitation of Life (which I intend to watch next before revisiting Far From Heaven) but it's not hard to see the many elements that came from this movie. What I don't remember is Far From Heaven making me half as angry as this did when it came to Cary's friends and particularly family (those ghastly kids!) trying to control her through their subtle and not so subtle threats of shame. Even her most supportive friend is kind of a nightmare (that scene where she shuts the door on the maid vacuuming seemed to encapsulate the entire movie for me - I'm reminded of that line in The Age of Innocence about "ignoring the 'unpleasant'"). What's amazing is though their behaviour seems ridiculous, particularly in the overblown, heightened, melodramatic way in which it's delivered, it never feels remotely untrue, not even 60 years later… if you're unfortunate enough you know that people really are this awful, and the simplest things can be made so impossible because of them. So, I didn't like this movie, but I believed every gorgeous infuriating second of it.

(* Though, as with Scarlet Street, I had seen one part of it, in Martin Scorsese's Personal Journey Through American Movies - when Cary receives the TV set at the end… an absolutely brutal moment…)