During the 1950s, two high school girls (Kate Winslet, Titanic, and Melanie Lynskey, Up in the Air) become instant best friends. The friendship blossoms into sheer obsession, with the girls eventually alienating their own family members. Soon this increasingly dysfunctional friendship ends up in tragedy.
Reaction & Thoughts:
I often think that achieving the right mood is the most important element in a film. You can have good actors, a competent script, and an array of intelligent collaborators and still have a problem mixing up all the necessary ingredients that make a movie a success.
Heavenly Creatures is a great example of what happens when a director is able to create and sustain a peculiar mood throughout the duration of a film, that not only emphasizes the good elements of the kind of story he/she is trying to tell, but also helps camouflage some flaws that would have been apparent had he/she not been able to carry the right type of atmosphere all the way to the fade-out.
Based on a true murder case, Heavenly Creatures is the story of a strange friendship between two very peculiar teenagers. Seemly very innocent at first, the film details the girls’ elaborate schemes, from their initial, almost silly escapades, to their most deadly and sinister plans. Once the inseparable friends take the murderous road, there is no turning back, and the viewer is left to ponder and analyze the nature of the girls’ unexpected inhumanity.
Heavenly Creatures was Peter Jackson’s first mainstream film, and one can already see signs of genuine talent way before he became famous for a little saga about Wizards, Elves, and Hobbits. Jackson does a great job combining the mundane and fantastic.
The movie is mostly told from the point of view of the two girls, so the viewer misses a lot of vital information. However, what looks like a narrative problem, director Jackson turns it into an asset. Depriving the viewer of some information was a wise move because it forces the viewer to concentrate on the strange bond between the two main characters, which, after all, is the most fascinating aspect of the story.
Winslet and Lynskey are simply superb in the very demanding roles of the girls. The cast also includes Sarah Peirse, Simon O’Connor, Gilbert Goldie, and Diana Kent.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Heavenly Creatures is not only a fascinating character study, but a valid and provocative coming-of-age tale. If The Lord of the Rings trilogy piqued your curiosity about Jackson’s previous work, you will want to see this excellent movie. If you are in the mood for something different (and disturbing) or you are just into true crime mysteries, this is a movie for you. P.S. The film is now available uncut and unaltered for the first time (Jackson was initially forced to eliminate some material). Color, 109 minutes, Rated R.