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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film has an opener that is stunning: with minimal dialog, the
director visually kicks the viewer in the gut with one of the most
nail-biting sequences this viewer has seen for many a year as Philippa
(Cate Blanchett) plants a bomb designed to kill the man responsible for
the death of her own husband...
Which sets up another series of suspenseful situations where Philippa is assisted -- from the most unexpected quarter -- to escape from the police station where she is held for questioning about the bombing. And that, in turn, inevitably leads to the foregone conclusion as she and her helper, Filippo (Giovanni Ribisi) try to elude recapture for a long as possible. All to no avail, of course... But this is not a born again Bonnie and Clyde team, no way.
Filmed in and around Turin, the lyrical Italian countryside, and parts of Germany, there's a feast for the eyes as they run for cover to a friend's house set on top of a hill, only to find that their time is limited. Filippo has fallen in love with Philippa, but does she truly return that love? He is, after all, ready to grant Philippa her fondest wish; will she do the same for him? Just how far will she go for love...truly?
Is Cate Blanchett the best female actor in the world? It doesn't matter what she tackles, she pulls it off with an ability and talent that astounds: as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator (2004), as Veronica Guerin (2003) and so many others, this actor, in my opinion, has no viable equal today. And, she is once again ably assisted by Ribisi who appeared with her once before in The Gift (2000).
And this is a slick and well backed production, with Sidney Pollack and Anthony Minghella among the producers.
But, it's not story for everyone. It's a real downer, in many ways, and a bit contrived to have a young translator on hand who conveniently falls for a suspected terrorist. Not impossible, I know, but highly unlikely. That aside, it all follows logically to the only conclusion possible.
Well worth the ninety-six minute screen time...
Tykwer once gave us the kinetic, frantic styling of "Run Lola, Run", a
tale that's all about movement. His approach to "Heaven" is quite
different however, parts of the film being almost like a meditation and
relying necessarily on a still and collected aura. Visuals are
important all the same, though, since there isn't much exposition in
the dialogue. What talking there is is made up more of imperatives and
sharp, harsh sounds. The transition of moods is conveyed to us largely
using silence and the picture we see on screen, so our two leads have
to be expressive, and Blanchett in particular expertly generates
empathy for her character, with minimal fuss.
Coming to the experience of watching this film knowing as little about events as possible is vital, I think. The film entranced me from its first unusual shot, and it was difficult to reflect too long on individual instances because the telling is so seamlessly smooth in its moment. For some watchers, this will marry perfectly with how they like to take in art, but I myself admit to preferring standout scenes that I'll remember, rather than preserving the unity of the piece as a whole. I was raised as a 'style over content' man and unfortunately it must be ingrained within me now, despite having broadened my tastes as I grew. That would explain the comparatively low rating for a film I have otherwise praised, but at least I found the unusual story to be a joy and appreciated what I saw as the film's underlying ethos. To wit:
... that the consequences of what must be irreversible decisions are inevitable, but that is not to deny an uplifting element that can also coexist alongside. Even at the height of despair and utter nihilism about life in general, she's still able to find a kind of solace in the company of someone who will sacrifice himself for her, unconditionally. Even at your darkest, somehow support will always be available, somewhere. I find that to be a rather comforting and positive notion.
It's like life, sooner or later an ending will be met, but what's important is to seize the little moments of happiness and peace where you can.
The framework of the story overall might have been depressing, but it's an important message, and I enjoyed seeing it play itself out. The form of presentation is regrettably one to which I'm not properly accustomed, so I doubt I got the best out of it, but nevertheless I still have to say it proved to be remarkably memorable and moving.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Beautiful, just plain beautiful. When this movie was shown on
television, I was totally glued to the screen. It is a very thoughtful
and romantic love story, with some unexpected suspense and dramatic
elements. The movie really opens up in the second half. The photography
is just stunning and overwhelming.
The ending is interesting, to say the least. It simply would not be possible in reality though. *Possible spoiler!!*: Flying a helicopter is not a feat one acquires easily... But then, Tykwers films often include some crazy, surreal ideas. Bring it on! I want to see more movies like this.
I found this to be a very nice blend of Kieslowski and Tykwer, two of my favorite directors. It is a sparse film, and has moments that require you to suspend your disbelief a bit too much (the communication written and taped between the officer and the woman is one thing I'm thinking of), but I find it to be a very compelling and human story, and the end is one of the most beautiful and perfect endings I have ever seen in a film. For me it makes any other small faults it may have forgivable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Could contain some kind of spoiler, but not really.
I have wished to see this movie for a long time, but when I started watching it this afternoon I did not remember why. I do not know anyone who have seen it; if they have seen it, they have not told me. So I did not know much at all. But I am so very happy that I took this chance, because this is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen! Although I do not like everything about it, like the abrupt ending that left you without a clue, this will surely become one of my favorites, thanks to the pictures and landscapes. And I did not even know I appreciated such things, that beauty alone could make a movie so great.
"Heaven" is an example of poetry converted into a motion picture. The director, Tom Tykwer, created a movie in which emotions are present at all times. The whole movie is a delicate and tender road that leads to an ending that will not be easy to forget. Both Blanchett and Ribisi bring to us a great example of good acting that leaves all audience with wet eyes. Finally, the end is the climax that the movie needed. Various scenes during the movie are important -the assassination, Cate Blanchett hiding in the bathroom and the part in which Giovanni Ribisi tells Blanchett that he was born the same day of her First Communion-, yet, the poetic elevation and disappearing of the helicopter is a great culmination for an impressive movie.
i gave this movie a 9, because such an intelligent work of art is so rare
these days of big-budget action/nonsense. this is a poem to love and hope
amid violence and despair.
blanchett and ribisi speak mostly italian (and do an excellent job) - that is, when they do speak. this is a quietly taut character study of two disparate souls who communicate mostly wordlessly.
the cinematography promotes the dream-like effect the story has on the viewer, bringing us intimately into the same space with the two main characters.
it became apparent the ending would be "sad," but i had no idea it would be so lyrical, so gentle, so hopeful. i strongly suggest this film to anyone who is interested in near-perfect acting, tight direction, lovely cinematography, and a story that will pierce you.
Though this film has its flaws, it held me. It's the rare film that deals honestly and intelligently with profound social and moral issues. The cinematography is breathtaking, particularly the use of light and color. Almost unreal at times... Giovanni Ribisi's strong, quietly felt performance made me wonder why I don't see more of him. This stands side by side with "Knife in the Heart." Most of all, though, is the astonishing performance of Cate Blanchett. This film leaves no doubt that she's the greatest actress - at least of her generation. The scene at the beginning of her interrogation contains possibly the greatest piece of acting on film. I had to immediately replay it to believe what I'd just witnessed.
Directed by Tom Tykwer. Written by Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof
Piesiewicz. Running time: 96 minutes. Classified R (for a scene of
To label Heaven a thriller, while not necessarily untrue, would be a huge understatement. It is a strikingly original love story disguised as a suspense film. It was written by Krzysztof Kieslowski, the renowned Polish writer/director best known for his Trois Couleurs trilogy, and was intended to be the first installment in another series of three pictures, respectively entitled Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. But when Kieslowski passed away in 1996, all that had been completed was the first script, at which point Tom Tykwer (Run, Lola, Run) stepped in and took on the rather daunting responsibility of doing justice to this acclaimed film-maker's work. And after having seen the completed project, I can confidently say that Tykwer succeeded. Heaven is the story of a schoolteacher named Philippa (played with vivid sensitivity by Cate Blanchett) whose husband dies of an overdose, prompting her to attempt and assassinate the drug-lord responsible. Yet instead of murdering her intended target, her plan goes awry and accidentally causes the death of four innocent bystanders, two of them children. Racked by guilt and remorse, she allows herself to be arrested and subjected to police interrogation, willing to suffer the consequences of her actions but still persistent on avenging her spouse's passing. Here enters Filippo (Giovanni Ribisi), a police officer whose parallel name suggests him to be Philippa's counterpart. When he makes the sudden decision to help her escape and fulfill her desire for retribution, the two fall deeply in love with one another and become fugitives from the law. While this seems like the perfect premise for a box-office-bound thriller, Kieslowski and Tykwer have very different intentions: Heaven is one of the quietest, most delicate exercises in subtlety ever created. It is a tender love fable, and yet it emanates an unexpected intensity. The camera-work of cinematographer Frank Griebe is so graceful and gentle that it makes the film genuinely unpredictable. His overhead shots display sheer beauty, and one particular scene at dusk in which the camera rotates around the plain of a darkened tree as Filippo and Philippa slowly approach each other for a kiss is indescribably voluptuous and breathtaking. Tykwer displays an authentic understanding of the power of silence, and uses the frequent lack of dialogue to make Heaven increasingly powerful rather than uneventful and dull. The performances of Ribisi and Blanchett are convincing and passionate, and over-all the film is balanced and smooth, with good editing and a compellingly bleak score. But as good as Heaven is, I was given the impression that Tykwer suffers from the same weakness Luc Besson is prone to: he's afraid to go all the way and deliver an entirely gloomy film. For some odd reason, he feels a false need to insert comic relief instead of making a picture of Kubrickian power and melancholy. One scene in which Blanchett and Ribisi are hiding in the back of a milkman's truck as he's having sex in the front seat seems out-of-place and unnecessary. Minor flaws aside, Heaven is an alluring, moody piece of art, and it delivers one surprise after another from the bizarre animated opening sequence to the downbeat conclusion. I really hope that the other two installments of the trilogy are made, which is a feeling very uncommon to me, and a sign that Heaven belongs to a higher class of film that actually leaves you wanting more rather than counting down the minutes to the closing credits.
***1/2 - Excellent
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.
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