Heavenly Creatures DVD Review

Cover Art & Packaging: 8/10
I love a good bloody tear, but this is a bit over the top even for Peter Jackson, king of the blood effects. I LOVE the movie and I feel that the story, the characters and the way it’s all represented on the cover just do not go together. It’s a glowing romantic look at Kate Winslet and the tormented image of her cohort in crime, but the glamour is fleeting, and less of the story than the cover art suggests.

The allure of Winslet’s character could be glorified, if only in her friend’s eyes, but not on the cover of the DVD. It just doesn’t do what I want a cover to do.. grab you create a genuine interest in what the story is about, not what looks good on movie posters.

Extras & Features: 0/10
None 🙁 Oh how sad when someone like Jackson is so close to being able to share his ideas and techniques, thoughts and memories of a film like Creatures. No extras here, just a theatrical trailer.

One “feature” could be that it’s the uncut version of the film, not the theatrical release. So you get a better view of what the director’s vision is meant to be. This counts for a lot in my book. There are so many reasons why a film can end up chopped to bits in the theater, but DVD gives filmmakers a chance to make things right by showcasing their original cut.

The Movie: 10/10
A retelling of a tragic true story. Two young women, girls really, swept off their feet by circumstance, romance, and each other. In the 50’s life was simpler, more innocent, or was it? This tale of wonderment and confusion could be ripped from today’s headlines. Two teenagers looking for meaning, for love, for life cling to each other in a fantasy frenzy of wishful thinking turned macabre. One girl neglected by her academic parents whose money only surpasses their bad judgment when it comes to caring for their daughter. Both girls growing up in the wake of childhood illnesses, one abandoned because of wealth and privilege, one smothered by working class parents lost in their own delusions about raising children.

The wealthy daughter drifts into stories and whimsy to escape her otherwise empty life. The working class girl, questionably suffering from a mental or emotional illness keeps most of her mind in a place other than reality as well. When they meet and become fast friends their needs for acceptance, attention and for someone to reciprocate their twisted view of the world, there is a chemistry that leads to chaos. They dream of knights and kings, queens and castles. They become more and more emerged in their alter reality. When they are threatened with separation, their worlds collide with a bitter conclusion.

Peter Jackson is an amazing director in many ways. If you have seen any of his “slasher” movies you might think his work is all a bit on the B Movie side. However, look again. When you watch Lord of the Rings and Heavenly Creatures you can see the quality of his work. Everything from a very active camera to some of the most visually interesting shots, sets and well edited scenes I’ve seen.

This was Kate Winslet’s first film, yes, Kate Winslet from Titanic. She is young but you can see the power in her personality. Jackson brings out some very intimate moments between Winslet and her co-star Melanie Lynskey. Delicate work indeed for young woman, even in the 90’s.

The story is constructed in a way that tells an almost ultra realistic tale of these girls descent into madness. It’s a true story with some very surreal facts and details. Jackson draws on the girls’ reality more than REAL reality. Showing the state of their minds, their perceptions and their dream world. All leading to a plan they devise to make sure they are never separated.

There is a distortion to all of Jackson’s character in that they seem “normal”, but the makeup us just a touch exaggerated. The hair is a bit overly dramatic at times, almost making the characters into caricatures of who they are meant to be. Like they are under a magnifying glass and we are drawn to the biggest boldest features of them physically and their personalities.

This works beautifully in Heavenly Creatures since this is such a strange true story that seems to defy understanding. The style of the movie does not glamorize the girls’ actions, but forces the viewer to take a look at the events in a less clinical way than to simply dissect it all as if it were a sociological experiment gone wrong.

I’m thrilled to have finally seen this film and I will watch it again if only to watch more closely Jackson’s camera work and artistic vision for different scenes.

Value: 10/10
Excellent value. I found this one online for 13.00, so go shopping folks and add this one to the DVD pile in your living room. There are no extras, but that’s ok with a quality film like Heavenly Creatures. It’s well well worth that kind of cash for anyone who appreciates Jackson, Winslet, or good old New Zealand filmmaking!

Over All: 10/10
Dramatic and stylish this is a treasure of a film. Based on a horrible true story, the film is true to the period with emaculately detailed sets, costume and ideology of the characters. I can’t say enough good things about this film. The DVD has a big gap where the extras should be. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed for a new extended edition in the future.

Overall Score 10/10