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MOVIE REVIEW:Heavenly Creatures
This film is about two teenage girls who form an intense friendship in
a fantasy world, that they would do anything to keep themselves
"Heavenly Creatures" looks at an unusual friendship of two very
different teenagers. One is from a working class family, rebellious and
sulky. The other is from an upper class family, elegant and smart. They
form an intense friendship, that sometimes it borders on being
homosexual in nature. The film portrays their intense relationship in
an ambiguous manner. At times they appear to be really good friends,
but at other times only a few occasions) they appear to be lovers. This
ambiguous nature distracts viewers a little, but otherwise "Heavenly
Creatures" is a strong story that captivates viewers. And in the
opening credits, it says "Introducing Kate Winslet". Maybe the
filmmakers would never have thought that the person they introduced
would go on to become the youngest actress to get five Oscar
nominations for Best Actress?
"The next time I write in this diary, mother will be dead. How odd, yet
This early writing and directorial effort by Peter Jackson and starring
a young Kate Winslet is an odd one to pin down. Especially odd, since
it's based on a true story (which I didn't know until the film was
over). It's about the intense friendship between two girls living in
New Zealand. One is sullen and withdrawn, the other, a wealthy
transplant from England, is outspoken and draws attention with her very
presence. Both are intelligent, imaginative, and share a similar casual
darkness in their personalities.
As their friendship blooms and grows more and more intense, their
parents (this being set in the 50's) begin to suspect an unwholesome
aspect to their relationship. When the threat of separation arises, the
girls swiftly and resolutely settle on a grisly solution to their
forced division: murder.
The movie shifts in tone often, from a sort of coming of age story, to
the fanciful world of the girls' imaginations, to their rage and
heartbreak at their parents. Kate Winslet was pretty good, but you
could tell that she was still finding her way and confidence as an
actress. I found the plot to be rather dull at the start, but it grew
more interesting as it continued on to a rather abrupt ending.
Interesting is a good word to use describe Heavenly Creatures, as a
whole. It held my attention, even during the parts where I was a little
less than entertained. It's unflinchingly dark in some aspects, and
innocent and childlike in others. I'd recommend it to most just based
on the fact that it's something different, and there's merit in that.
It's well-made, also, I just found my interest fluctuating too often to
give the movie a higher score.
And how does Kate Winslet look almost exactly the same today as she did
in 1994? Now that's a topic that's interesting enough to make a movie
Heavenly Creatures was for a long time in my list of movies I need to
see, but from a reason or an another it always managed to seem an
impossible movie to see, so after a local TV-channel finally showed it,
I was naturally pretty pleased. So there I was, expecting to see a sort
of an exploitation flick about lesbian murderers. Boy, was I wrong with
The core element of the Heavenly Creatures is the relationship of the
teen girls Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) and Juliet (Kate Winslet). Juliet
is a daughter of a family, that has spent most of her childhood
traveling all around the world, thus giving her vigorous imagination.
Pauline in the other hand is a daughter of pretty ordinary family, who
feels trapped in her oh so casual life.
When Juliet arrives as a new student in Paulines school they quickly
find each other as soul mates, who plunge deeply inside fantastical day
drams of magical kingdoms and royalties made of clay.
There is a murder in the movie, the death of Paulines mother and there
is a tender, lesbian romance, but they both are portrayed in very non
exploiting manner. The main focus is always to the relationship of the
girls and their fantasy world and how it makes their teenage angst
ridden lives seem much brighter. Of course there's the tension of
knowing the outcome present, but the actual plan to murder Paulines
mother enters the story in relatively late, despite the outcome of it
is shown right from the bat.
All in all Heavenly Creatures is pretty special little movie and it has
many unique characteristics. It is an interesting plunge into the minds
of two girls, who are not quite as others.
More than any of Peter Jackson's movies, 'Heavenly Creatures' is
reliant on an audience's connection with the characters. The movie was
based on 'Daughters Of Heaven', an acclaimed 1991 stage play which in
turn was a representation of the infamous Parker-Hulme murder,
committed in Christchurch, 1954. Enacted with just bare sets, startling
lighting effects and a talented cast, the play was an eerie, unsettling
experience, heartbreaking and horrifying as the two girls' friendship
and private musings spiraled into paranoia and murder. Rather than
offering us a pared-down, chilling depiction of a shared and gathering
madness, Jackson instead elects to smother the screen in a hideously
garish CGI 'fantasy world', destroying completely the play's genuinely
creepy 'just two people on a stage' effect. What's more, it was this
movie which first showed that while he could do broad splatter-comedy,
Jackson had real problems with engaging our emotions in a serious,
dramatic production. None of the characters ring true; the adults are
oddly cartoonish and the girls are merely talkative and almost distant.
Peter Jackson just can't make us care about the characters, and that's
possibly because he doesn't. 'Heavenly Creatures' is flat, dull and
pedestrian; a botched adaption of good material and a tragic waste.
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