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Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Drama and Gay & Lesbian movie directed by Peter Jackson

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Heavenly Creatures, Winslet & Jackson - no Rings or Boats here

  • Jun 5, 2005
Pros: Lynskey & Winslet

Cons: .........

The Bottom Line: "It's you and me together, that's the bottom line" ... Ratt

Based on the real life account of the murder of Honorah Parker in 1954, Heavenly Creatures is a bizarre little look into the fantasy and reality of Pauline and Juliet, school friends.

Juliet, from a good family, extremely rich, has traveled all over the world. Her father is a professor, stuffy old shirt, mother is a bit flighty, used to living the good life. They have traveled to Christchurch, New Zealand, where Daddy will accept a new post at the college. Mummy turns to ‘marriage counseling’, in a fashion.

Juliet, although quite the extrovert, is somewhat shy. She has spent a good deal of her life locked away in hospitals and recovery spots for a lung disease, which turns out to be TB later in the story. She is outspoken, vibrant, and highly intelligent. Because of her illness she cannot participate in many of the school activities. To compensate for actual friendship and love, Juliet has created an extreme fantasy world, loosely based on the royal family.

Pauline comes from a different environment entirely. Her family isn’t well-to-do, they live quite humbly but seem close knit. Pauline is the complete opposite of Juliet, introverted and reclusive. As well, she has spent a good deal of her childhood locked away in hospitals for something I never did get a handle on. Irregardless, it left her with a problem severe enough to prohibit her participation in school activities as well, and a good sized scar on her leg.

Desperately in need of a friend, Pauline meets that friend sitting on the bench at school, during physical education. That friend is Juliet. Juliet takes her by the hand, and heart, and leads her into a fantasy land only they can see.

Oddly enough this mating of friends could have been a good thing had it not turned so obsessive. The friendship between the two girls brings out different parts of them that at times seems very good but for the most part it is like a cancer that is feeding upon itself. As their obsession grows, their fantasy implodes. Soon fantasy becomes life and life becomes a fantasy.

At the end of a path, in a clearing in the woods, one of their stepping stones is removed when Pauline takes a sock filled with a brick and bashes her mother to death, with Juliet’s help. Unfortunately, she has left a very detailed account of how they will do it in the diaries she maintains, gifts from her parents each Christmas. Both she and Juliet are sent to reform schools for an indefinite period.

They were 14 years old at the time.

Juliet and Pauline
Ms. Melanie Lynskey played the tortured Pauline. Her haunted eyes and scowling face were framed with a wild disarray of billowing hair. She was dark and brooding which made the blonde and bubbling Juliet even more so. Lynskey was located at a local school while they were searching for a character that closely resembled the real Pauline. Personally I think she carried the movie although Juliet received the accolades because of a little boat later on in her career.

Pauline was brash and needy. She was the shy girl that stood on the sidelines that we all ignored in high school, the one we made fun of.

Juliet was new comer, Kate Winslet. Who could assume that three years later she would become involved in a big boat and a diamond necklace with such panache? She was a bit whiny in the movie, probably reflective of the character she was playing and frankly looked like a chubby little school girl with a hint of beautiful young woman. As with most leaders, she needed a follower, a subject, which she found in Pauline.

Both girls were highly intelligent, both were simply quite mad obviously.

Heavenly Creatures was directed by Peter Jackson, who shared writing credits with Fran Walsh. A few years later Jackson became involved in a successful little trilogy involving a Lord and some rings. I thought he did a sensitive portrayal of this crime and gave us enough background detail on the girls and their families to make it plausible.

Awards won
~Empire Award, best British actress, Winslet
~Grand Prize, Jackson, GĂ©rardmer Film Festival
~ALFS Award, British actress of the year, Winslet
~ALFS Award, director of the year, Jackson
~Best actress, Lynskey, Best cinematography, best contribution to design, best degisn, best director, best editing, best film score, best foreign performer, Winslet, best soundtrack, best supporting actress, Peirse, New Zealand Film and TV Awards
~Metro Media Award, Jackson, Toronto International Film Festival
~Silver Lion, Jackson, Venice Film Festival

It was also nominated for best writing, screenplay, by the Academy Awards, 1995

Filming locations and odds and ends
Most filming was done in the actual location of the crime and where the girls lived and played. Director Jackson said when they went to film at the real murder spot they got bad vibes so they moved their crew to a location a few yards away.

Juliet was released in 1959 from reform school, traveling to England to live with her parents. She went on to become a writer, using the name Anne Perry.

Pauline was released in 1965, returning to her home in New Zealand. Having assumed the name of Hilary Nathan, she devotes her life to handicapped children.

The one prerequisite of their release was that they never meet again.

Pauline’s actual diaries were used in the making of this film and the readings during the film are from those diaries.

There were no extras on this DVD other than scene selections and subtitles.

Overall impression
It took a bit to get involved in the surreal aspect of the fantasy world. Not one of my favorite things, but then again, needed for this production. The life-like modeled clay figurines were impressive and let you know these weren’t real people but the make believe world these girls inhabited.

Selection couldn’t have been better than the use of these two unknown actresses, one dark and brooding, one light and vibrant. The brief touches on homosexuality were done tastefully. The background for the story itself is very sad, all those lives ruined, both families really.

Both girls played their school girl look with a believable stance, both seemed at times quite insane. Overall I enjoyed the production.

Rated R, violence, sexual content. Run time 99 minutes unless you can catch uncut version which runs 108.



Viewing Format: DVD
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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More Heavenly Creatures (1994 movie... reviews
review by . April 24, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
I'll have to admit that my reason for wanting to see Heavenly Creatures was prurient. Anne Perry is one of my favorite mystery writers, and I was interested to see the movie Peter Jackson made about the murder she and her best friend committed as teen-aged girls.      Melanie Lynskey plays the part of Pauline Yvonne Parker, who grows up in a poor family. Her parents were never actually married, and they keep boarders in their home. Lynskey portrays Pauline as a very …
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About this movie


A starkly original film-going experience based on a true life story, this film from New Zealand director Peter Jackson (Dead Alive,The Frighteners) is a stirring drama that offers up the unexpected. The story concerns two girls, outcasts who become best friends, whose bizarre fantasy life becomes more intense as their bond becomes increasingly more obsessive. When the mother of one of the girls tries to intervene and split the girls apart, they kill her and stand trial for murder in what is to this day still a celebrated and controversial case. Kate Winslet (Titanic) and Melanie Lynskey create two sympathetic and yet uncomfortably eerie characters in riveting portrayals. Featuring some startling and unique moments of visual brilliance as well as a disturbing love story between the two girls,Heavenly Creaturesis at once both unsettling and beautiful to behold.--Robert Lane
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Director: Peter Jackson
Genre: Drama
Screen Writer: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh
DVD Release Date: September 24, 2002
Runtime: 99 minutes
Studio: Miramax
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