Sunday, October 05, 2003


A Video Review of "Heavenly Creatures"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Heavenly Creatures is based on the true-life murder of Nora Parker in 1954 Christchurch, New Zealand. This horrid murder was committed by her daughter Pauline and her best friend Juliet Hulme and triggered one of the most scandalous trials in New Zealand history.

The girls, here played by Melanie Lynnesky and a young pre-Titanic Kate Winslet, as outcasts with vivid imaginations form an intense relationship. The two are fast and inseparatable friends who obsess over Mario Lanza, Orson Welles in The Third Man, the Biggles books and a world they create for themselves. One of their mothers believes the girls have developed an 'unhealthy' (that’s fifties-speak for homosexual, folks) relationship and tries to keep them away from each other. Pauline and Juliet retaliate with a plan to kill Pauline’s mother.

This is the film that introduced both Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynnesky. We all know what happened to Miss Winslet but why haven’t we seen more of Miss Lynnesky? They are equally Oscar-class actresses here. In my opinion neither actress has matched their performances as the deeply disturbed young women in Heavenly Creatures since.

Other cast standouts are all small parts. Stephen Reilly as Mario Lanza is memorable and Jean Guerin as Orson Welles is unmistakable. The highlight however is Clive Merrison, a Peter Sellers lookalike who also remarkably looks like the real Henry Hulme who he plays.

Peter Jackson’s direction is flawless. His fantasy sequences are breathtaking. All the locations are authentic. That and the locations for the Lord of the Rings trilogy show Jackson’s love for New Zealand. He also co-wrote the screenplay based on the real events and excerpts from Pauline Parker’s diary. All of the voiceovers are read directly from that diary.

Heavenly Creatures is one of the best most underrated movies of the 1990s. See it as soon as you can. It’s well worth it.

Rating *****

***** Must see
**** Worth seeing
*** So you have eight dollars you want to throw away…
** Is Adam Sandler in this mess?
* A bullet would be quicker.

The above is a longer version of a review that previously appeared at the now defunct and sadly missed Project Popcorn.

No comments:

Post a Comment