All That Heaven Allows | Chicago Reader

All That Heaven Allows

A masterpiece (1955) by one of the most inventive and recondite directors ever to work in Hollywood, Douglas Sirk. The story (which Rainer Werner Fassbinder remade as Ali: Fear Eats the Soul) concerns a romance between a middle-aged, middle-class widow (Jane Wyman) and a brawny young gardener (Rock Hudson)—the stuff of a standard weepie, you might think, until Sirk's camera begins to draw a deeply disturbing, deeply compassionate portrait of a woman trapped by stifling moral and social codes. Sirk's meaning is conveyed almost entirely by his mise-en-scene—a world of glistening, treacherous surfaces, of objects that take on a terrifying life of their own; he is one of those rare filmmakers who insist that you read the image. With Agnes Moorehead and Conrad Nagel.

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