A typically bored affluent Californian housewife's world of domestic oblivion careers off its axis when she develops a mystery illness that puts her at odds with every aspect of the world around her - cars dry cleaners hair perms and even the new couch! Gradually she develops nosebleeds vomiting and breathing problems and finally collapses. In a desperate search for what is 'safe' she opts for virtual isolation in a porcelain igloo in the Texas desert where the inhabitants drag round oxygen cylinders and the therapists act like evangelical preachers. Injected with horror comic touches and psychological suspense Safe is a visionary tale of the future. Has Carol brought her sickness upon herself or is she made vulnerable by a world that is more dangerous than we or she understands?from£11.50 | RRP:
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Average Rating for Safe  - 4 out of 5
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Safe Wilder Penrose
Todd Haynes' films always delight me, and "Safe" is one of his best. Carol (played brilliantly by Julianne Moore), bored, wealthy housewife, and mother of one, loses control over her safe suburban environs, and her domestic idyll turns against her. Her allergies proliferate rapidly, her nose bleeds, respiration becomes irritated and her stomach nauseous. Her husband freaks out, a little bit. And her doctor tells her there is nothing wrong. A TV show, however, leads her to believe she is one the growing, but few, poor individuals who suffer from "environmental illness". As she shuns the unnatural (car exhausts, air freshener, etc.) for pure, oxygen tank, she becomes distanced from her friends and family, also recoiling from sex with her husband. Her low impact existence is transformed as she starts to stand out from those around her. As her illness (Haynes" never really tells us whether "environmental illness" is real or not) escalates, she seeks solace and perhaps her lost anonymity in a retreat of people all with the malady. Because Haynes never tells us what to think about Carol, her illness and existences (even her husband is an unambiguous character, swinging between sympathetic and harsh) "Safe" is interesting in several ways. As a drama about an unknown illness it sometimes seems to parallel the intrusion of HIV into middle-class culture. Because her illness is not diagnosed as immune system related, or medically diagnosed at all, this, however, does not explain its entirety. As a possibly psychosomatic illness emerging from a safe and bored bourgeois life, it suggests criticisms of Carol"s lifestyle, as the film"s melodrama replaces the lack of real drama in these people"s lives. As well as engaging with ideas and people that a lot of us can recognize in our and other"s day-to-day lives, "Safe" also, through this recognition and its ambiguous characters (including "environmental illness"), is also emotionally engaging, and thus entertaining. This is one of my favourite films of the last ten years or so. Highly recommended.
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