Heavenly Creatures

All the best people have bad chests and bone diseases. It's all frightfully romantic.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * · · )    DVD Rating: ( * * · · · )

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We were lucky that the Lord of the Rings ever got made. If you haven't heard the story about how the nine hour epic series of our generation got the money to go forward, I recommend you look it up. Filmmaker Peter Jackson had one other movie that showed his true talent for his grasp of fantasy. A little heard of movie called Heavenly Creatures. Though far different than the epic tale of the Ring of Power, Heavenly Creatures shows that as a director and writer, Jackson knows how to make good, thought provoking, and powerful films. Heavenly Creatures is a very good movie.

We live in a world where the press hounds over childhood violence like ravenous wolves on the carcass of a gazelle. They eat the stuff up, ripping and tearing at it, with no concern for the gore they leave behind. While violent crime among children has actually gone down, you'd think from the news that every kid with a video game controller in hand is a potential DC sniper. Heavenly Creatures is a movie that looks at a childhood violent crime committed over 50 years ago. It chooses no side in the event, painting neither the children who committed it or their victims as either good or bad. It tells the story through the eyes of it's characters. For the children it's a fantasy world of kings, queens, violent princes, and rolling green hills. For the parents, its a harsh reality that their two teenage daughters may in-fact be lesbians, simply unacceptable in a small religious town over 50 years ago.

A councilor speaks to one of our two heroines, discussing her feelings for her friend. Behind him stands the green clay prince stands, vengeance in his hollow eyes. He stabs the psychologist through, spitting "Stupid idiot". We next see Pauline being ushered out of the office, a frown on the psychologists smug face. The palate this movie chooses to paint the story is one of both fantasy and harsh reality. Told through flashes between reality and fantasy, the disjointed nature does little to take away from the key points of our two main characters. They are in love, and their families will not allow it.

The DVD of Heavenly Creatures is pretty disappointing. The movie does have a 2.35 to 1 16x9 enhanced picture but the sound is Dolby Pro-logic. There is no directors commentary and few extras of substance. There is apparently a new transfer of the movie coming out that may improve on this version, but it is not clear in what way.

There have been very few movies to address teenage violence, and fewer still don't walk in with an agenda. Heavenly Creatures is a look at a horrific crime committed by two young girls. It does not condemn them or those they fight against. It is a story told through the eyes of all the characters, both in fantasy and in vivid reality.