Archives / 1995 Sundance Film Festival

Safe

Director: Todd Haynes

Screenwriters: Todd Haynes

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival

Description

Todd Haynes, who achieved prominence and, in some quarters, notoriety for his innovative and controversial feature, Poison (Grand Jury Prize, 1991 Sundance Film Festival), returns with a superlative exploration of social existence and angst in his new work, Safe. Brilliantly executed, Safe is a remarkably insightful depiction of the underlying threats to normal, day-to day-life.

The film is ostensibly the story of the very upper class, very insular world of a California woman who suddenly and mysteriously is afflicted with a bewildering set of symptoms and maladies, none of which responds to traditional medicine. In searching for a cure, she sees a small advertisement for a program that will alleviate the symptoms of those who suffer from reactions to “fumes.” So begins her voyage into another world of New Age lifestyles and ideas, of environmental hazards and secret perils.

Todd Haynes has structured a story which expresses the inner history of a woman whose life never seems to be her own. She is either totally involved with external things—her children, husband, social affairs—or so internally absorbed that she is almost out of touch with the rest of humanity; alienation doesn’t begin to explain her state of mind. Julianne Moore is simply outstanding as the protagonist, repressed to the point of self-destruction and desperately seeking answers to her plight. This is a remarkably rich film, which works on a number of levels, ranging from sci-fi paranoia about the dangers of modern existence to philosophical allegory to a riveting exposition of New Age coercion and manipulation. Safe is a film about survival as much as life and is a marvelous follow-up to Haynes’s earlier achievement.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]