Saturday, July 16, 2011

882. Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Running Time: 99 minutes
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Written By: Frances Walsh, Peter Jackson
Main Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet, Sarah Peirse, Diana Kent, Clive Merrison


Edging closer and closer to my short term goal of 301 films watched, I clicked off another film tonight and another good one at that. Let's hop right in, shall we...

Pauline Parker (Lynskey) is a 14-year old girl, living in New Zealand in the 1950s and attending an all girls school. She's a fairly lonesome child...that is, until Juliet Hulme (Winslet) transfers to her school and the two are paired up for an art class assignment. The two waste no time striking up a bond and soon they're inseparable. Together the two waste away the days painting, writing stories and sculpting clay figurines and devising their own fairy tale world called "The 4th World", a place where they escape to in their imagination, referring to one another as Charles and Deborah. In the real world, however, their parents grow increasingly hesitant about the relationship that the two girls have. When Juliet comes down with tuberculosis, she is sent to a hospital and the girls go nearly mad, as they're forced to correspond to one another via letter writing. Ultimately Juliet's mother (Kent) and father (Merrison) announce that they are getting a divorce and that Juliet will be sent to South Africa to stay with her aunt. As the girls relationship becomes closer and closer (it's hinted that the two may have been lesbians), they'll go to any length to stay together. "Heavenly Creatures" is based on the true story of Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker.

You can really start to see Jackson's spark for creating imaginary worlds in "Heavenly Creatures". Of course, Jackson would later go on to direct the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy (which I'll eventually be watching and reviewing for the book), "King Kong" and "The Lovely Bones", all films that allowed Jackson to open up his box of fairy tale magic and blow it toward the big screen. However, "Heavenly Creatures" is based on a true story - the true story of a grisly murder that was committed in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1954. Jackson adds a dash of fantasy to this true story though, as he brings to the screen the very imaginative minds of the youth of this film, as the two girls enter into a fantasy world where they're happy and safe and where their clay figurines can speak to them and dance with them. It was ultimately the girls blurred vision of reality and fantasy that may have drove them to commit murder, who knows.

The acting finds of this picture were quite substantial, with Kate Winslet making her film debut and basically putting her name on the map and gearing up for bigger roles in bigger pictures, like "Titanic". Melanie Lynskey was also quite good and while the book asks "what ever happened to this promising young actress?", some of you may know her as "Rose" from "Two and a Half Men". While "Heavenly Creatures" was quite good, I didn't get the greatness feel from it and instead it wound up being a film that was just as good as I thought it would be. I'm starting to hate when that happens - when a film doesn't surprise me, but simply, merely lives up to it's expectations. It happens more when I watch movies outside of the "1001" book, films like "The King's Speech" and "The Kids Are All Right" - films that are just about as good as I thought they'd be and nothing more...or less. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes I like to be "WOWED" and this movie didn't have that WOW factor. Good, but not great, in shorter terms. However, the film did house some absolutely spectacular visual woes and coupled with an above average script, great performances from the leads and some outstanding cinematography, it did it's duty in providing me with a good time at the movies tonight.

RATING: 6.5/10 Maybe in time my opinions of this will go from good to great, but for now call it a good flick with really good performances by the two leads and some outstanding visuals.


July 15, 2011 11:04pm


  1. I really like this film.. very well played and very understanding of the clash between generations. And despite it's wanting to be sympathetic, and understanding of the opression they were put under by the system and parents who didn't (or want to) understand, it is 'warts and all' for the girls.. they come over as self absorbed, selfish and thoughtless a lot of the time.

  2. Great review and, again, some really interesting insights about films not exceeding or failing to reach your expectations, but being just what you anticipated. I never thought of that, but I can certainly relate to it. I stumbled upon Heavenly Creatures a few years back and thought it was really good, but above all, it led me to some really interesting reading on the web about the actual case. (Also, I had no idea that Melanie Lynskey was ROSE on 2 1/2 Men!)


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...