5 February 2000 | taffy71
The most subtle and unsettling of films
This truly is one of the rarest commodities in the cinema pantheon; a film that conveys multiple plot angles, each as disturbing as the next, yet in a most quiet and understated fashion. Watching the WASPish, vacant, and utterly clueless Carole (played by chameleon beyond compare Julianne Moore) slowly morph from armpiece San Fernando wife to a fragile shell of a person, may not be an experience you will enjoy at first, as a close friend of mine said after viewing "There's no damn way I'd pay eight bucks for that!". Just give it a day or two, for never has there been a film (at least not until The Blair Witch came along) that has a way of seeping into your subconscious as this. That same friend, who so soundly poo-pooed it, later confided to me that the final scenes, which show what Carole had become, were haunting him at work and rest. It is an interesting study in the effectiveness of true psychologically jarring film making, where much is left to the audiences imagination - including the root of this strange affliction, the viability of these help groups, and indeed Carole's perception of all that is happening to and around her.
The soundtrack is perfect - simple eery piano over looming synth. The use of the camera is as economical as it is effective - the less shown the more we think, with broad extreme long shots used primarily in the beginning, showing that Carole doesn't seem to belong in her own home. Yet this film's greatest triumph is, for all that she has been through, and the weak diseased person she became, Carole appears to find happiness and respect for herself. Without a second thought that is the most disturbing possibility I could, or would want to, imagine. Safe may very well be a film that does not lend itself to repeated viewing. But that's fine, because it only takes one dose of this quietly sad and ghostly film to haunt you ever