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Heaven
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Heaven More at IMDbPro »

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Some scattered thoughts

Author: Harry T. Yung (harry_tk_yung@yahoo.com) from Hong Kong
16 February 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoiler

Having seen none of Kieslowski's `colour' trilogy, nor even Tykwer's Lola Rennt, I was drawn to Heaven for only three reasons: Cate Blanchett, Cate Blanchett and Cate Blanchett. Actually there's one more: the description of a certain scene made by a commentator on radio

People seem to either love or hate this film. Those in the latter group have taken the `morality issue' very much to heart, denouncing the diabolical portrayal of a killer of four innocent people as the hero. The accent on `innocent' however opens up news grounds for debate of morality. Would it be assumed then that the killing of the drug dealer is a good thing? How about those who would take the view that it's a crime and a sin to take any life? Or is there a fine distinction somewhere as to under what circumstances a vigilant killing is justifiable? You see my point.

The first half of the film is intense, with frequent use of a slow moving camera to capture the moods. Love or hate, few can deny the mesmerising cinematographic beauty of the second half that takes the audience to an idyllic Italian countryside. In some cases, knowing in advance what the film is about helps in the enjoyment of it. For Heaven, however, I wish I had not heard anything about it, and would therefore be able to take in the amazement and wonder as each frame unfolds. Even this foreknowledge, however, did not diminish in any way the devastating impact of the magical `silhouette' scene. The audience in the cinema, in awe and wonder, responded in kind to the absolute silence that accompanied the scene….even the loathsome squeaking of the chair throughout the film in the next block came to a complete and total stop.

No doubt, members of the audience would make their free associations with the various images and symbols in the film. The one I have relates to the shots of the fugitive couple when they wake up in the morning from under the tree, close ups of their heads, in turn, facing sideways looking at each other. Maybe because of the ethereal light, my free association went to the baby in the womb at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In a film so rich in symbolism, it is a delightful surprise to see such a down-to-earth and damned touching scene of the father saying goodbye to them, particularly his kindness to this woman whom he could have very easily hated for taking away his son.

On the cast, nothing I can say is good enough for Blanchett. The delightful surprise is Giovanni Ribisi whom I though is an Italian (meaning physically in Italy) who happens to look familiar, but later found out to have played an excellent supporting role in two recent movies: Kendall in Basic, and John in Lost in Translation (which I saw only three days before Heaven).

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17 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Tom Tykwer's best?

10/10
Author: campphoto-1 from United States
8 February 2006

This movies changes gears throughout and draws the audience in. Unlike many American directors, Mr. Tykwer gives us a non-formula film detailing the duplicity of good and evil. The bad/good guy (woman) is a murderer by choice-accident? It requires the audience to think of consequences and actions. Part cautionary tale, chase film, mystery, with love and redemption, the film is emotionally moving and beautifully photographed, especially the ending with the helicopter ascending into the sky (heaven?).

Mr. Tykwer scored a big hit in Germany with his previous "Run, Lola Run". The similarities with Heaven are the main character is female and stacked up against the odds, as with "The Warrior and the Princess" which has a fantastic symbolic ending. Howcome it takes a German male director to portray females as real heroic figures without being typical action-cartoonish representations?

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Cate Blanchett, held for murder, escapes with the help of Giovanni Ribisi

6/10
Author: msroz from United States
18 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have mostly positive feelings about "Heaven". The setup is flawless. The cinematography is beautiful. The pacing and manner of scenes are typically Italian. The script is literate. The police, or some of them, are shown as corrupt, hung up on terrorism, and prone to SWAT raids; and such portrayals are welcome. The story incorporates love as a main theme, and with love comes loyalty through thick and thin. Ribisi's love for Cate Blanchett is entirely understandable and believable. She is, after all, very attractive and vulnerable in the part (and maybe not in the part too).

In my opinion, the latter part of the movie didn't come up to the first part, the reason being that I did not feel that Cate really fell in love with Ribisi. In addition, she seems to have changed her mind from wanting to die to wanting to escape, and it was not altogether clear why. Also, Ribisi had been extremely smart about every detail, up to the point where he decides he wants to see where she grew up. But, as a policeman, he had to know that police would be looking in just that area.

I think the story let us down from the escape onwards by becoming more of a simple love story. It should have combined that and made that more believable by showing them facing her conscience and facing the searching authorities in more detail.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Heaven... on Earth

Author: mapr9 from El Salvador
13 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is ironically entitled Heaven. Phillipa(Blanchett) goes through literally Hell, through the entire movie. Perhaps the only moments of hope she has, are those alongside to Filippo (Ribisi). And it's as if she "learns" to love him back for everything he does for her throughout the movie.

The movie is very slow paced. Not a lot happens, and even minutes after the first half the main plot hasn't resolved yet. This can work on either way... as a suspense-builder or make it a boring movie.

The soundtrack, the scenery and the directing are amazing. It's just fitting. Blanchett as usual is perfect, but for some reason, this just doesn't strike me as a role for her. Ribisi, who speaks flawless Italian, proves he can also be the leading man. Again, like most of his characters, there is a hidden, kind of obssessive force that gets him doing things, but that's the beauty of his character here. No one knows how or why, but he falls for Blanchett's character and goes to great pains to help her. An unusual love story.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant Enigma

9/10
Author: jwassermann from Canada
9 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The never-ending brilliant ventures of Cate Blanchett and the directorial hand of Tom Tykwer brought me to this dubiously titled film. I'm glad I overcame my distrust. The film continues to haunt me. Blanchett's subtle portrayal of an English teacher in Italy's northern Torino region who is driven by the self-interested neglect of her husband's murder by the Carabinieri (police) into herself attempting to exterminate the the drug lord behind the murder, as well as the deaths of scores of children whose addiction has brought them to the ultimate despair - that performance is sublime. Then, in custody, as she learns that her home-made bomb has not killed the drug lord but has taken the lives of four innocent people, she is overcome by shock. Only the young police officer Filippo (Giovanni Ribisi) who brings her back to her feet, can feel in the coldness of her hand how genuine her response has been, rather than the play-acting ascribed to her by her interrogators. It is that moment that transcends the hopelessness of both Filippo and Philippa (Blanchett) have come to feel and drives the story to its end in a kind of "heaven" above Montepulciano, Tuscany. Realistic? Certainly not. A haunting piece of art. Absolutely.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Contemporary Allegory Done Beautifully

9/10
Author: samkan from Poconos, Pennsylvania
11 October 2009

Allegory is were the story parallels a famous parable, fable or story. It usually involves human virtue and/or frailty, which serve as the actual point; i.e., not the setting, characters or even the plot. Some purists would argue that the virtue or weakness must match some classical theme; e.g., a biblical or Shakespearean tale told in modern method. Critics may argue a better allegory may involve characterization and plot as well as any other movie. Not necessarily.

The story line (I almost hesitate to call it a "plot") in HEAVEN is interesting if not at all detailed, fleshed out, etc. Other than our two main characters, no character, with the limited exception of Phillepe's father, is given screen time, dialogue. Consider how easy it would have been to throw in some details to make the bad guy more evil, Phillepe's little brother more altruistic, etc. Even Phillepe's father is not really explained, serving bettor to enhance his son's conviction.

What we are left with is this beautiful arch of innocence, tragedy,obsession,redemption, consummation and surrender. The bookending helicopter tool was a clever device, if irritating to some. But it doesn't matter how they died, kill'em in Bonnie & Clyde fashion if you like. If Cate's escape was clumsy, how cool was it to put the two in the attic, Phillepe's boyhood hideaway, for developing the relationship? Contrary to the cries that the plot was unbelievable, I found it clever how the plot, secondary characters, circumstances, etc., were so successfully minimized.

When dad arrives in the rural village to meet with the fugitives, a shot freezes the two in their skinhead haircuts, punk jeans and tee shirts. They look no different than two ordinary beatniks, disenchanted youth, etc., and most of all, look so comfortable in their condition. The two come from such different backgrounds and have arrived therein from entirely different means and motivations. Yet there they sit, looking interchangeably the same and likewise united in purpose and conviction. Such is a much greater cinematic feat than a Hollywood getaway thriller.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Cate forces you to forgive the unforgivable

10/10
Author: ewa-3 from United States
24 October 2002

Far from a plot-driven film, "Heaven" forces you to keep remembering that the heroine has killed four completely innocent people as a result of a poorly planned and executed attempt to assassinate a drug lord. All of this takes place under the credits. By the time the movie itself has started, the viewer is faced with some very sticky ethical and moral questions.

Blanchett's character, an English teacher in Italy, realizes that she cannot forgive herself for her actions but must face the consequences. She does, brilliantly, and with the help of Giovanni Ribisi, playing a young caribinieri officer who (almost) falls in love with the prisoner the first time he sees her.

The movie looks and sounds great. The score, often played by just a piano and violin, is terrific. Many of the scenes toward the end of the movie are shot in the sun drenched countryside of northern Italy (Lombardy) and the shots from the beginning of the movie, overhead and looking straight down at the red-topped roofs of an Italian town, are stunning.

There are a few shots that call attention to themselves--one in particular, when the lovers run from a house, across a field and wind up under a large tree. Looking at it, one is aware that it could only have been shot from a helicopter--although it may also refer (in advance) to the rest of the movie.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Tykwer, not Kieslowski

8/10
Author: gealach from Turin, Italy
8 October 2002

Lots of negative critics says that this movie is not the one Kieslowski would have made. I think this is a good film made by a good director, perfectly following his kind of cinema and his thoughts. Tykwer offers us another little masterpiece, kind and deep, on how life can be, on chance and choice, on love and hate. With two great actors, Ribisi and Blanchett, and a lot of beautiful settings.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Good, but only for the committed

7/10
Author: mark-4469 from United States
8 July 2008

I'm only posting because the previous post is ridiculous.

I'm a huge fan of Krzysztof Kieslowski's work, and I have enormous respect for Cate Blanchett and Tom Tykwer but this is a film that tries EXTREMELY hard to be something it is not. Perhaps its a reaction against his work in Run Lola Run, but the pacing in this film is ponderous without the weight to justify it.

From a technical point of view it is actually quite averagely shot (especially when you consider where it's shot) and I would have personally liked to strangle the crane operator. I get the strong impression it was a modestly budgeted film.

Having said all that, its very watchable if you are open to slow, deliberately 'arty' cinema. There are several scenes of real tension and emotional power, and the writing is terrific. When I saw it just now on Cable, I wasn't aware of who had written it. Now it makes sense.

So enjoy if you are in the mood. It certainly sparked good lively debate in this house. :-) But it is not a 'thriller' and it's not mainstream.

It's also not the best film ever made.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Hypnotic

10/10
Author: Nolf_ from Hanover NH USA
2 August 2004

This film was brilliant. Upon finishing it, I felt like I was in a trance that I still haven't "woken" up from. The pictures, the music, and the acting were so great, and the theme that Heaven deals with, the relationship between coincidence and fate, is so interesting and so well done here. The last scene is beautiful, and I remember praying to God to not allow this movie to ever end. Also, what I love about this film is that even though the protagonists aren't the typical definition of "good", "pure", or "morally correct", I still found myself rooting for them to escape the police and for their love to blossom even more.

This movie is full of magic and even after a year of viewing Heaven, it hasn't lost any of it. It will stay with me forever and ever.

Ten out of five stars.

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