Controversial, undeniably brilliant alternative filmmaker Todd Haynes (POISON, SUPERSTAR: THE KAREN CARPENTER STORY) reached the mainstream with this dreamy but tough-minded satire. It's about a fragile housewife (Julianne Moore) who develops a mysterious syndrome called Multiple Chemical
Sensitivity -- as one character puts it, she's "allergic to the 20th Century."
In the sterile landscape of California's San Fernando Valley, suburban homemaker Carol White (Moore, in a stunning performance) slowly discovers that she's allergic to her new sofa. Next, she has a terrifying choking attack caused by exhaust fumes on the freeway. Both Carol's husband Greg (Xander
Berkeley) and her physician, Dr. Hubbard (Stephen Gilborn), dismiss the malady as emotional. But Carol continues to experience adverse reactions to everything from her hairspray to the food she eats. Desperate, Carol tries everything, winding up in a "wellness center" near Albuquerque, New Mexico.
There, doctors, gurus, and assorted lost souls fail to halt Carol's inexorable retreat from reality.
[SAFE] sounds like a disease-of-the-week TV movie, but it transforms the formulaic material into something original and spellbinding. Much as Douglas Sirk and Rainer Werner Fassbinder reimagined the conventions of melodrama, director Todd Haynes--who was indeed inspired by a TV movie, THE BOY IN
THE PLASTIC BUBBLE--turns the form on its head. Haynes keeps viewers at arm's-length through the cool detachment of his technique. Viewers unused to his elliptical style may have difficulty discerning his point of view (many experienced similar difficulties the previous year with Michael Tolkin's
masterly THE NEW AGE), but few will fail to register his disdain for the overweening gurus who advise their clients that sick people are responsible for their own diseases.
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: Controversial, undeniably brilliant alternative filmmaker Todd Haynes (POISON, SUPERSTAR: THE KAREN CARPENTER STORY) reached the mainstream with this dreamy but tough-minded satire. It's about a fragile housewife (Julianne Moore) who develops a mysterious… (more)