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Movie Review

Safe

Reviewed by: Ken James
STAFF WRITER

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Drama
Length:
118 min.
R

Carol White (Julianne Moore) is a typical upper-middle class California resident who goes through the daily routine of life as she has for years not knowing what life changes are awaiting her… Off to the drycleaners to pick up her clothes… to the restaurant for a lunch meeting with some friends… then down the busy city freeway back home. After some strange health problems start, she begins her journey of discovery as she seeks answers to the shortness of breath and eventual asthma-like attacks that she begins to experience.

With the doctor unable to diagnose anything wrong, and her husband (Xander Berkeley) in disbelief and doubt of what we are to believe is the truth, Carol starts to turn toward the possibility that her problems are related to the environment in which she lives. A small support group for others like her is found, and her road to healing takes her from California to New Mexico where she moves into a “safe” environment in the desert.

The leader of the rehab community is strikingly similar to what one might imagine David Koresh or another cult leader to be. He is charismatic and treats the community there as if they are an enlightened religious-like group. The film ends with Carol happy in the new friendships she is making and in the support she feels from them, but her own marriage and life in California in question. One is left wondering if she will ever return to her son and husband.

Technically, “Safe” was a very slow moving film. The acting was fair, but the plot did not move along quickly enough, nor the characters developed in such a way, as to hold my attention. There was little to be offended by of typical Hollywood fare, but there was one instance of a bedroom scene and some language. Even though “Safe” may be cleaner than most films, I cannot recommended it.

Year of Release—1993

Viewer Comments
…A particularly noteworthy aspect of “Safe” is the sheer sense of uneasiness it conveys… Carol grows more estranged from her own family, her own world, and the eerily pervasive background music doesn’t help. After all conventional medical efforts are exhausted, Carol takes up residence at Wrenwood, a New Age-y retreat center run by self-help guru Peter Dunning (Peter Friedman). Dunning’s credo is a positive attitude to its literalist extreme: namely, that people cause their own illnesses by a lack of self-love. At Wrenwood, she’s surrounded by friendly people—mostly superficially—such as a mentor (April Grace) and awkward dinner help (James LeGros). Whether any of these folks truly care about Carol and her personal well-being is certainly open to debate…
—Brian Nigro, age 26