SAFE explores the physical and psychological deterioration of Carol who, feeling disconnected from her life of comfort, succumbs to an environmental illness - a diminishing tolerance of everyday chemicals - and checks herself into the Wrenwood retreat with its New Age self-consciousness. Brilliantly executed at first by writer and director Todd Haynes, SAFE's drama tapers off into an ambiguous ending. While the film offers a poignant look at the fragility of the human mind, caution should be exercised in the film's propagation of New Age philosophy.
SAFE explores the fragility of the human spirit, weaving its story around its waning heroine, Carol, played by Julianne Moore. Carol’s life seems perfect in its materialistic splendor, but Carol seems increasingly disconnected. She responds to everything almost automatically. Her calculated responses gradually give way to mysterious physical symptoms such as seizures, nose bleeds and breathlessness — explaining them all away as environmental illness – a diminishing tolerance to everyday chemicals. Finally, she checks herself into the New Age Wrenwood retreat.
The film fuses Carol’s breakdown into a conclusion that provides no real answers to the questions the story poses. Writer and director Todd Haynes uses excellent lighting, long still shots and poignant silences to tell his story of a woman that is searching for meaning and identity. However, just as Carol’s troubled spirit finds solace in the Wrenwood retreat, the film fades from its technical brilliance to a more mundane end. SAFE has one sexual scene, two implied sexual situations and two profanities. Overall, SAFE presents the interesting point of view of inner emptiness, but caution should be exercised in its New Age worldviews where “you can create your own safe world.”
(E. NA, L, NN, SS, ) A New Age environmentalist worldview where spiritual awareness of the environment is encouraged and "self" holds all the answers to life through increased self-consciousness; 2 obscenities; full nudity; and, 1 scene of husband & wife making love, 1 other implied sexual situation & 1 vulgar sexual joke.