An almost accidental romance is kindled between a German woman in her mid-sixties and a Moroccan migrant worker around twenty-five years younger. They abruptly decide to marry, appalling everyone around them.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
El Hedi ben Salem,
Cary Scott is a widow with two grown children. She's been leading a quiet life since her husband died, socializing with a small circle of friends. Her children no longer live with her full-time but come home every weekend. She's not unhappy but also doesn't realize how bored she is. Her friend Sara Warren encourages her to get a television set to keep her company but she doesn't want that either. She develops a friendship with Ron Kirby who owns his own nursery and comes every spring and fall to trim her trees. Ron is much younger than Cary and their friendship soon turns to love. Her circle of friends are surprised that she is seeing such a younger man and she might be prepared to overlook that - Ron certainly doesn't care about the differences in their ages - but when her son and daughter vehemently object, she decides to sacrifice her own feelings for their happiness. Over time however, she realizes that her children will be spending less and less time with her as they pursue their...Written by
The façade later cannibalized to make up the front of the Bates home in "Psycho" is visible a few houses up Cary's block. See more »
Cary reads two quotations from the same page in Walden: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" and "If a man does not keep pace with his companions..." Those two quotations are from opposite ends of the book, the first and last chapters, respectively. See more »
There is nothing to add to all the other comments about Sirk's wonderful direction, color palette, camera placement, etc. Sumptuous visual story telling!
What compels repeated viewings, though, is Jane Wyman's amazing accomplishment here. Especially compared to Sirk's subsequent sudsy masterpiece featuring Lana Turner, "Imitation of Life."
Wyman was always good and always INTERESTING. She held the camera. No doubt about that. Was she a great actress? Did she ever get a script that let her PROVE she was? It's arguable.
But here I think she truly WAS. Line for line, this is fairly pedestrian material. ("I let others make my decisions for me.") Each scene, like a string of pearls, is well-constructed. The plot too contains emotional conflicts and arcs that sustain the whole and reward us in the end.
But the lines themselves? In lesser hands the entire enterprise would have laughably bombed.
The supporting cast is top-notch. They ALL know their way around a line. Especially Agnes Moorehead and Jacqueline de Wit.
Even the early Rock Hudson, another star not known for impressive acting chops, who later found his REAL niche in light comedies with Doris Day, in which he was terrific, shines here. What he's asked to do he does naturally, easily, sincerely and affectingly. His sexual heat, jaw-dropping good looks, that voice and, yes, manliness, were perhaps never before or afterward captured so effectively on screen.
But "All That Heaven Allows" is Jane Wyman's picture all the way, and she's heavenly in all of it.
Though everything she does looks unstudied and completely naturalistic, hers is a consummate technical display of film acting on the highest level.
Listen to her vocal inflections alone. Completely naturalistic. Except dramatically varied and supported by heightened emotion that is anything but "natural" and is all "art." (She could also sing, and sing well.)
Watch her movements. Same thing. All in character, not an ounce of phoniness. But so precise, economical and scaled for the camera that, again, you're watching the art of a well-trained professional performing at a high level.
Then, watch her amazing close-ups. You can read her every thought and emotion and reaction -- widely varying throughout the emotional plot arcs -- without her saying a word. Without an ounce of overplaying.
Her seeming simplicity here, as an artist, an actress, is so focused yet subtle that she pulls you in and holds you completely every moment she's on screen.
That, without being a natural or classic "beauty" like Lana Turner or Elizabeth Taylor, and without the aggressive showiness of actresses like Bette Davis or Joan Crawford or Katharine Hepburn.
The script doesn't offer Wyman the histrionic fireworks of more flamboyant roles given some other actresses.
But the layered richness and honesty of Wyman's performance here is the central achievement that keeps you returning to "All That Heaven Allows" again and again.
Yes, it's a great performance.
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