Review: Heavenly Creatures (1994)

The long wait is over. I have safely landed back into the blogosphere; blame my absence on MA work, Christmas and selling books.  Or just my laziness and over-tiredness. With my insomnia back in full spirit after its sip of mulled wine, I’ve taken a journey into the land of film, more specifically the fourth dimension of Heavenly Creatures.

Heavenly Creatures (1994) directed by Peter Jackson is certainly a marvel to behold. Based on a true story from Pauline Parker’s journal entries in the 50s, Jackson begins a devilish journey into the ‘fourth dimension’, where fantasy grips two young girls and leads them straight to Hell’s gates.

Image courtesy of A.V. Club: Friends forever.

Kate Winslet acts as a pompous 14-year-old girl, know-it-all and an all-together odd human being. In the first 15 minutes you will hate her. You will also ask yourself: ‘is she meant to be this annoying?’

Well, yes. Yes she is.

Many people have thought her over-acting was due to landing her first film role – it is her debut, so who can blame her? But on the contrary, it is part of her talent and ability at such a young age to play a psychotic, egotistical but strangely alluring young girl. Of course, Juliet Hulme (Winslet) can show the other side of the coin by a mere flick of a switch inside that big brain of hers. When she learns of her parents’ departure her face shows confusion as she stands there in shocked silence. It is at this point that you begin to learn she has a fragile state of mind – one that the ‘fourth dimension’ preys upon.

The fourth dimension is a world that is purely fantastical, where unicorns exist and clay figurines step into flower-filled fields. It is a world that has been invented by both Juliet and Pauline and the place of their adventure novel featuring the royal lovers, Prince Charles and Princess Debora. The girls sculpt their characters into clay figurines which live and breathe in the fourth dimension. It certainly could become very silly in a matter of minutes, but Jackson works it into the plot so effortlessly that you find yourself believing in this mad, mad world.

Pauline, played by Melanie Lynskey, is moody, quiet and a deeply troubled young girl. She bonds with new exchange student Juliet over art, fantasy, adventure and a morbid fascination with sickly subjects. Pauline considers herself an outcast, while her family considers her to be homosexual – not a great situation in the 50s to find yourself in! Pauline is the polar opposite of Juliet, but together they form a plan to rid Pauline of her inner hatred to the world. Through her journal, Pauline describes her wonderful life with Juliet, their fight to retain their friendship and the path of destruction that lies ahead.

At its core, Heavenly Creatures is a distinctly playful vision bordering on insanity, showing fans that Jackson isn’t just fixated on ‘There and Back Again: Taking the Hobbits to Isengard’.

You can catch Heavenly Creatures on BBC IPlayer now.

Posted on December 16, 2011, in Childhood, Film Takes, Friends and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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