All That Heaven Allows ★★★★½

Film School Drop Outs – Weekly Challenge 2017 | Week 23 - Auteurs - Douglas Sirk

All That Heaven Allows was my first Sirk movie and it made me curious about the rest of his filmography. One thing that surprised me about the movie is that even though it is quite different from Fassbinder's remake Ali: Fear Eats the Soul both movies made me feel similar as I really wanted to talk about them afterwards but had a hard time trying to put my feelings into words.

What strikes me the most about All That Heaven Allows is that although the movie is more than 60 years old the subject matter is still relevant today when you think about how women who are dating younger men are treated and judged compared to men with younger girlfriends, particularly because when it comes to older women even a few years age difference are often seen as problematic whereas men could date women who could be their children or even grandchildren and most people wouldn't bat an eye.

Of course, the movie is as much about class as it is about age. One could only speculate how Cary's family and friends had reacted if she had wanted to marry a younger man who was a part of their circle instead of their gardener but I doubt the reactions would have been as harsh as they were when it comes to Ron. Especially for Cary's children the fear of losing their wealth and their status because of Ron was prevalent and they basically force their mother to choose between them and her own happiness. And of course she gives up everything for them and doesn't think for a second about herself. Which, as it later turns out, was the wrong choice because as soon as Cary and Ron break up the children suddenly lose interest in the house that was so important for them and want to sell it. That's also the turning point for Cary because it makes her realise that they have their own lives and so does she and just because she is their mother it doesn't mean that she has to sacrifice everything for them.

The movie's only flaw is one sexist scene towards the end when Ron's friend is telling Ron that he has to convince her to marry him because no woman wants to think for herself and he's the one who has to do the thinking for her but I guess that's the 50s for you. But this scene is easy to ignore since the rest of the movie is in every way perfect and - what I probably liked the most - so much more subtle than Fassbinder's remake.