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Environmental illness

Related: sick - 1900s

Safe (1995) - Todd Haynes
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A mousy housewife living the affluent life in the San Fernando Valley begins to develop debilitating sensitivities to her environment.


Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), also known as "20th Century Syndrome", "Environmental illness", "Sick Building Syndrome", Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance (IEI), and a host of other names, can be defined as a "chronic, recurring disease caused by a person's inability to tolerate an environmental chemical or class of foreign chemicals" according to the NIH National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences web site. MCS is a non-standard medical diagnosis for people with unexplained allergy-like symptoms who believe that traces of several modern industrial or household chemicals are responsible. Conventional medicine does not recognize this diagnosis, because there is no definitive test, no plausible scientific mechanism, no reliable studies have demonstrated its claims, and because the symptoms are explainable by other means such as more conventional allergies, infectious disease, or psychological reaction to stress. There isn't even a meaningful description of the disease, making diagnosis practically impossible. Typically, people who show vague symptoms which resemble allergic reactions are diagnosed with it. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiple_chemical_sensitivity[Oct 2004]

Safe (1995) - Todd Haynes

Carol White (Julianne Moore) is a mousy housewife living the affluent life in the San Fernando Valley when, over the span of a few months, she begins to develop debilitating sensitivities to her environment. A permanent at the hair salon makes her nose bleed and her skin go bad, exhaust from a truck causes her to cough violently, she's allergic to the new couch, goes into seizures at the dry cleaner's. No one understands or credits her condition, least of all her husband or family physician. But the symptoms worsen, and Carol eventually discovers others who suffer from similar environmental illnesses. She checks into a desert spa that caters to those in her predicament, and the staff regales her with touchy-feely, infomercial-style affirmations. All of this could have been broad satire, but director Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine) opts for a filming style that captures the empty elegance of Carol's passive lifestyle and looks on with clinical dispassion, so that you can hear the oppressive quiet surrounding her. It's positively eerie, so you know you're not watching just a worthy cause picture or movie of the week. Haynes has more ambition than that, even going so far as to insert a slight buzzing sound in the soundtrack to accentuate the unease. Fluorescent lights? Power lines? Who knows? Maybe it's safe to call it the ominous rumblings beneath the surface of Carol's life, from antiseptic affluence to septic isolation in the spa environment. A model of sustained tone, boasting one of the most remarkable performances by Julianne Moore, from a whole career of remarkable performances. --Jim Gay, amazon.com

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