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Being a sympathetic soul to the work and tone of Kieslowski's films, and
(more or less) liking Tykwer's Run Lola Run, I figured upon renting
"How bad could this be?".
I'm not a Cate Blanchett fan, wasn't particularly in the mood for Hollywood romanticism, and feared I was about to see one of those mediocre spy/evil-establishment films that seemed so prevalent in the UK during the 80's.
Pardon the clichÃ©, but from the first frame this film captured me. It is patient, respectful, realistic, but still optimistic in it's view of our greater intentions. It is violent when it needs to be, but even then it respects the victims. Everyone is human in this film.
The technical aspects aside (and they are legion), there is so much to recommend about this film that I will simply suggest anyone with a clear mind and 2-hours of time find this on the shelf and watch it.
Tykwer has done it again. This time with a Kieslowski script. Heaven is possibly the most beautiful film I've ever seen. Each shot is so gorgeous, it's like watching a thousand paintings on the screen. Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi are incredible together (teaming up once again after doing "The Gift"). I will watch this again and again. It reminds me why I love films so much.
When I went into see this film I did not know what to expect, but from the moment I entered to the point of exit I was utterly blown away. The faultless performances down to the perfect prowess of the camera I found no fault. This is where I was surprised, seeing it was directed by the seemingly untalented Tom Tykwer of Run Lola Run fame ( for a reason that still alludes me). This film was obviously under the complete control of perfectionist director (this time in the producers seat) Mr Anthony Minghella who I believe is yet to perfect his own talent but I'm sure in the years to come he will find it under the same rock that he found the script for "Heaven". Mr Minghella quite rightly kept Tykwer on a very short leash. For I'm sure if it were up to him the perfect script by Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz would have been mangled beyond redemption, in such a way that it would somehow relate to the tasteless youth of today. Even though this review seems to only be putting down the two men who brought this film to fruition, I do realise that they did have to have done something right for they were the ones who made it. I believe that these two film makers should once again unite there film making abilities so we can see whether or not it was by sheer luck that they made this film. Or if it is when they unite their film making abilities that they make a film that places its viewers in heaven.
In fact i don't often write comments about films. But this time i had to. I watched this film about 4 months ago, but still couldn't forget it. It's not a film for majority. When i read the comments about it i saw again, how some people suffer from their lack of imagination. Imagination ability is a prerequisite for this film. I so much wish Kieslowski was alive to complete the whole story. This was his heaven. It was my heaven also, but not everyone's(fortunately). The extreme devotion of Filippo, his giving up everything, their run, Philippa's untouchable-extraordinary beauty, her crying, their sitting side by side after haircuts, Philippa with that white t-shirt, Philippa getting amazed after seeing how talented Filippo is, Filippo living for Philippa, Philippa answering the extreme devotion of Fillippo. After 4 months i still dream about these. I wish all my life passed with watching this film, i wouldn't turn around and watch for other things. Some films are classics, some are special classics. This film was special. If you are among those who can dream, try heaven.
I think this is one of the most impressive movies of the year. I don't actually think that a logic plot is so important, because this movie is not about something like that, it's about love and how people change when they feel it. I think Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi are gorgeous in this movie, just look at their eyes and looks! They're perfect! And you feel such a harmony between them. Apart of that, the movie is so beautiful. There are so many scenes with fantastic light and perspective! This is a movie which moves to tears and goes straight to the heart. Tom Tykwer has grown up very much since "Run, Lola, run" and made a movie for us that is very unusual and touching.
"How high can I fly", is the question Filippo (Giovanni Ribisi) asks during
a helicopter flight simulation at the onset of Heaven, the latest film by
Tom Tykwer, a question that does not become relevant until the end. Heaven
raises the question of ends and means, specifically -- does a worthy end
justify unacceptable means? It explores the answer in what is essentially an
allegory about responsibility, transformation, and transcendence. Heaven was
to be the first part of a trilogy by the late Polish director Kristov
Kieslowski called Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. Kieslowski, however, died in
1996 and was unable to complete it and the task of completion was given to
Tykwer. Heaven merges the technical, fast-paced prowess of Tykwer with the
slower-paced sublime poetics of Kieslowski and the result was, for me, a
strange but deeply spiritual experience.
In Turin, Philippa Paccard (Cate Blanchett) an English teacher attempts to get even with an Italian drug dealer who caused one of her students to commit suicide. In trying to destroy what she perceives to be evil, she plants a bomb in his office wastebasket but the plan is thwarted and she inadvertently kills four innocent people in an elevator. Meanwhile, the drug dealer, Vendice is not harmed. Later when Philippa realizes the consequences of her actions and breaks down sobbing during an interrogation, she is comforted by carabinieri, Filippo (Giovanni Ribisi), who is in the room as her translator (she insists on testifying in English). Filippo is deeply attracted to the defendant and believes in her innocence. Together they formulate an escape that leads them to another act of revenge and finally into hiding in the Italian countryside where they become fugitives in the town of Montepulciano.
The film then shifts from a gritty reality-based drama to a dream-like poem about lovers on the run. Contrary to what one would expect, the lovers are totally calm and peaceful and resigned to their fate. The countryside where they are hiding is bathed in a glow that soaks everything in an ethereal light. Looking like innocent children out on a Halloween night, Philippa and Filippo identify with each other by shaving their heads and wearing identical clothes. The cinematography is wondrous. One of the most beautiful scenes is a faraway shot of the horizon and two shadowy figures coming together in silhouette next to a huge tree. I will never forget the radiance of Blanchett and the beatific look of love on the face of Ribisi.
On the surface, Kieslowski seems to be telling us that we are at the mercy of a capricious universe. We try to do good and we end up doing wrong. We have excellent plans but do not foresee the consequences. Underneath this, however, is Kieslowski's vision that everything happens for a purpose, one that only God is aware of. There is little dialogue, only hushed silence and passionate glances. "Heaven is about silence," Tykwer tells The New York Times. "But all the silences have ten layers".
The film to me does not justify criminal acts. Rather, it says that while some of us may commit acts that are reprehensible no matter how worthy our motives, all of us can ultimately achieve transformation. As director Tom Tykwer put it, `The film (Heaven) is about redemption, basically the concept that love can help us find our true perspectives and our true meanings. This is not about God being somewhere else, but in ourselves and what a gift that is." In an ending that is transforming for both the characters and the viewer, the two lovers take responsibility for their actions and surrender, in Beckett's phrase, to "the benign indifference of the universe". The meaning of the opening helicopter scene then becomes clear in an ascending epiphany of grace.
I love movies that can succeed with little dialog, and Heaven does
exactly that. To me, this is where cinema shines. It's something you
can't do in a theater play, a radio play, or even a book. Vast sweeping
landscapes, street scenes with events that move the story along, scenes
where Philippa and Filippo just stare at each other, or sit and eat ice
cream. All without saying a word. Just the visuals and you know what's
going on in the story and in their hearts and minds. Most writers &
directors need all sorts of chatty dialog to do that. If you're a step
above you can do it without so much talk.
Krzysztof was a genius.
This movie is a really strange one. It has a strange sort of atmosphere around it. The acting is very good, the cinematography is really special with some amazing, beautiful scenes that leave you in awe. Also the music is well chosen. It's not original music, but by Arvo Pärt. I'm not going to explain why this film is so strange. Watch it, and you'll see for yourself. It starts already with the strange, but really well done opening scene. Also the end is so strange. I liked this film, because the story stays interesting, but especially because of the strange atmosphere and cinematography that this film has. Watch it, it's nothing like you've ever seen before. This film is from director Tom Tykwer, director of Lola Rennt, Perfume, ...
This is a really difficult film to review. You have to sense the impact
the first half-hour makes on the viewer--getting hooked into the story
of a woman who, in an effort to kill a drug dealer, accidentally blows
away four innocent people. Then, in the midst of confessing her deed to
the Italian authorities, the young police offer acting as translator
falls in love with her and helps her escape. Two very intense
performances from Blanchett and Ribisi rivet the viewer's attention.
But from the moment of escape onwards, the film lingers too long on artful looks and poses from its stars--CATE BLANCHETT and GIOVANNI RIBISI--as they deal with what to do next. The suspense comes from knowing that they're only one step ahead of the police who are scouring the entire country for them. But Blanchett is a woman with a mission--she still wants to kill the doctor that she set out to murder in the first place. With the help of Ribisi, she does manage to do exactly that.
Strangely, the last twenty minutes of the film, instead of milking the situation for maximum suspense, comes to a lull in the Italian countryside and the plot is almost stagnant from that point on as if nobody knew how to end the tale. Having them get into a helicopter and fly off into the clouds seems like the only way out after the writer trapped himself into a corner.
Morally, the tale is as bankrupt as the misguided heroine and the hapless hero. Yet, for all its blunders, it remains an engrossing film to watch as you ponder the fate of these two strangely remote individuals who have fallen in love so suddenly.
The high-cheekboned Blanchett and expressionless Ribisi make an odd couple, but in life how many of these do we see all the time? The ambiguous ending is sad too because we know they can't escape their fate as they escape from the authorities in a stolen helicopter and make for the skies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My own notion of Heaven is rather peculiar. To me Heaven would be
somewhere where our personal history is completely transparent. This
means that everybody has full and instant access to the track record of
anything that has been done, said or thought. This way, there is 100%
clarity of who is good or who is bad and there cannot be something else
but the truth around even if the truth might be very ugly. For me it
seems that what makes life somewhat hard to bear is not the fact that
people are not punished when they do wrong but that bad people more
often than not are not even being perceived as wrongdoers.
Having said this, to me the movie Heaven cannot be otherwise than Mr. Kieslowski's perhaps not personal but definitely cinematographic notion of Heaven, which puts the emphasis on justice rather than truth. Philippa cannot stand the fact that a business man who caters in drugs gets away with what she perceives as the murder of her pupils and her partner. The institution of justice she turns to the carabinieri does not take her seriously. This should be clearly be interpreted as prayers to a higher Might. In despair, she takes the execution of the criminal in her own hand and hereby accidentally and unintentionally turning herself into heinous terrorist by misplacing a bomb which kill four innocent people including two small children.
After being arrested, during the interrogation Philippa faints by grief when she comes to full realization what she has done. She gets an injection to calm her down and from this moment on the film can only be seen as an almost hallucinatory vision of what Heaven should be like for someone who suffers from the injustice of the world and because of her presumption causes even greater suffering to others and to herself.
Her suffering is seen with mercy by the Son of the Father who used to be the head of the carabinieri of Torino. This young man becomes instrumental for Philipa's redemption. He actually takes part in the actual execution of the drugs dealer within the head quarters of the police department. He provides for the gun and he summons the drugs dealer to the police headquarters. In his eyes there is only love and compassion but it is not the same kind of love men feel for the women in this world.
They flee from the crime scene so it seems, but metaphorically it is a journey from hell through purgatory. Phillipa comes to her senses. Not physically, emotionally nor rationally but spiritually. She heals by traveling with her loyal companion as a wandering nun. She confesses her sins and concludes to her own surprise that she again is able to feel a new notion of love deep in her heart for her young companion. She gets absolution from the Father.
In the end sequence, the fugitives from mankind and civilization regain their innocence and shed their clothes under a tree on top of a hill in an Italian country side version of the Garden of Eden, no longer ashamed of being naked. (I know, it is tempting to think the scene as a sophisticated delayed ... but hey this is not a typical Hollywood flick not even a typical arty Hollywood flick. This is spiritual, nay religious stuff!). When a swat team arrives Phillipa (alpha - the beginning) and Filipo (omega - the end) literary ascend to Heaven by helicopter. Normally it is not possible to get that up high now we are reminded off the begin sequence that simulates an ascension in a computer simulator. Ergo, in a virtual world, anything is possible.
As far as I am concerned, the film could have ended by P&F jumping off a cliff or being ricocheted by the swat team and the end will be still be Heaven. Heaven is when we have never left the Garden of Eden or are able to return to it.
9/10, but not perfect. Perfect would have been when this was obvious for everyone and it was not necessary for me to write this review.
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