Film Review: All That Heaven Allows – 7.5/10

‘You can’t ignore convention...’

Romance is not something I typically look for in cinema. But there is something about the romances of the ’40s and ’50s that just hits different. You would have to have a heart of stone not to be enamoured with It Happened One Night or Brief Encounter, and Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows is cut from the same love heart embroidered cloth…

When Cary Scott (Jane Wyman), a wealthy widow, falls for her gardener Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson), she must overcome objections from the country club set and her own family. Ron’s reluctance to change himself to fit in with Cary’s upper-class friends is what attracts her to him in the first place. Quite the conundrum.

A well-worn subject then, love on the wrong side of the tracks goes back to Shakespeare and beyond, and yet, all it takes is a pair of great actors in the leading roles to elevate a story as old as time into something compelling and captivating. Well, both Wyman and particularly Hudson are great here, and their unlikely partnership is rendered authentic by a pair of skilled performers. It also helps that All That Heaven Allows is very much a cosy film – all wooden cabins, roaring fires and snowfall outside the windows. The film’s conclusion is perhaps a little too neat, and the other characters a little too ostentatious in their awfulness, but the emotional denouement feels earned rather than forced, and for genre fans, Sirk’s film will go down like a bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day.

All That Heaven Allows is not a complicated film, but it is a comfortingly familiar story told with competence and warmth. Well worth seeking out.