Safe is a little oddity of a film, directed by Todd Haynes and starring Julianne Moore in a role before she became more of a mainstream name. The film details the life of an everyday housewife, living a stagnant life with little to really live for, until she mysteriously starts getting sick, and has no idea why. She eventually finds a health seminar that helps her diagnose her condition; she is essentially becoming allergic to modern society life, to the chemicals in food and in the air and everything. After an attack, she finds out about a seclusion commune for people like her, and resolves to check it out and see if they can finally help her get better. It’s a very interesting film, and one that you otherwise wouldn’t have heard of or given any mind were it not for the list, so for that I’m thankful, as I enjoyed this film quite a bit.
The first thing I noticed was the camerawork, originally on the extremely slow dolly zoom near the beginning of the film, and from then on was quite impressed with the selection of shot and camera placement, and even the editing grew more appreciated; Haynes has real skill and knowledge with what he does in this. The whole film creates a very vapid and disconnected feel to life in general, and it’s when something out of the ordinary drudgery does happen that it is magnified all the more because of it. The film makes you feel exactly what it wants you to, and it is quite successful at that. Going through a range of emotions and controlling how they come about and what they mean for us as an audience is a rare and difficult task, and the film pulls it off rather splendidly. Moore herself is quite the accomplishment, and her voice was almost unrecognizable; I don’t know if her voice has naturally deepened over the years, or if she really was playing the character of the average housewife that well, but she didn’t sound like she normally does at all.
This is another one that originally had me questioning why it was on the list, what special quality or unique demographic it represented that warranted its inclusion. When I watched the film, I realized that there was no special qualification that this needed like so many other films on the list that otherwise wouldn’t have been. This is just a solidly good film all around, in that rare way that so few films of today’s time are. The film slightly shifts its focus in the later half, as we get a look at the somewhat cultish aspects of the healing center, which was a bit hard to ignore (so, sorry for putting them in your head as well, but I felt they were worth mentioning). That, and the film sort of drops off with the ending. Still, I liked this film a lot, but I can see how many wouldn’t; it is admittedly slow, and there’s really not much of a real plot – it’s more that things happen to the main character than an actual plotline, but again, I still ended up liking it, mostly for the aesthetic and atmosphere the film exudes, which is plentiful indeed.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10