Director: Todd Haynes
Year Released: 2002
Intriguing how I saw this just days after the 1981 movie Ragtime, as both have similar agendas: showing white America exactly how hateful and contemptible it really was. Sirk's melodramas belonged to their day and age when such matters were truly relevant, but today you're singing to the choir; if people bitched about how American Beauty was (to quote Pauline Kael) "sucking up to white liberals," this is doing the same thing, inviting us to scoff at the diagnosis of homosexuality as some sort of "disease," and how the people viewed a black man in the same truck as a white woman as a "scandal." We're supposed to gasp with horror at how the townspeople turn against the white woman-black man coupling (I'm not sure even now whether or not they were 'in love' or whether or not Haynes wants us to think that), and when the naïve white boys, influenced by their parents, attack a black girl. The film's shift to the Julianne Moore storyline - and near abandoning of the Quaid subplot - suggests he had nothing more to say about the concept of homosexuality 'in the day' and the movie might have been balanced better had he further developed the Quaid character. Let none of this suggest that the performances are not good; indeed, I would be disgusted if Moore or Quaid did not get recognized come Oscar time, and the cinematography and sets are meticulous. Effective in parts, but if you think too much you start to question the motives and message.