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Heaven on Earth
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Heaven on Earth More at IMDbPro »

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

"Better hell than a heaven with no dignity"

8/10
Author: Peter Young from Earth
14 August 2009

It's hard to describe Heaven on Earth in one word or one sentence, and it's even more complicated to explain what it is about in one sentence. It has many aspects of our modern life which are touched so realistically and brilliantly by Deepa Mehta that few words could not describe them well enough. People mistakenly think the film is about domestic abuse, but it's far from being just about that. It is about immigration, the hardship of people who immigrate from one country to another, from one culture to another, from a difficult world to a world that is even worse. It is about isolation, loneliness and the pain of being far from your family. It is about the terrible consequences of arranged marriages. And of course, domestic violence, which is the main aspect that carries the narrative forward.

All these elements are thrown upon the main protagonist of this picture, Chand. A vibrant and lovely girl, she flies to Canada to marry a man she has never met. Ironaically enough, while people expect to see a brighter, better life for a person who immigrates from India to Canada, we discover that Chand's new family lives a poor, miserable lifestyle. The members of the family include seven people, all of whom live in a two-bedroom house. The striking portrayal of life of immigrants in the suburbs of Toronto is realistic and precise. Soon Chand becomes a brutally battered and abused wife who bears the brunt of her husband, Rocky's frustration. These scenes are just terrible to watch. Rocky is cruel and carefree when he beats her, and Chand is full of pain and fear. It's very easy to hate Rocky, but the fact is that he is also a victim of the circumstances, of all the responsibility thrown at him.

Preity Zinta's Chand is a wonderful and very well-written character. While it represents all the women-immigrants, all the abused women who are aware of domestic violence being a common part of their culture, it's great to see that in such a world there can be a woman who is so optimistic and positive. She suffers, she aches, she misses her mother, her country, she is desperate of thinking that she will have to live the rest of her life with a bunch of monsters, yet she never really loses her sense of life. She does not blame anyone, she does not hate anyone, she turns her difficulties into strengths, she turns her fears into valours by using her imagination. She creates a world that is better, and lives it. She creates a "Heaven on Earth".

Deepa Mehta intelligently displays magical realism in a rather extremist way. Every time Chand is maltreated by her husband, she starts reciting in a whisper beautiful poetic monologues, which efficiently illustrate her loneliness and yearning to see her mother and get back home. When she's alone, she imagines a better life where she is a beloved woman and wife, escaping the cruel reality but little knowing that it's surreal. I must note the scenes which turned black and white deliberately, which are symbolic of the film's meaning. All the sequences involving the snake may be confusing and unclear, but what I find great about them is that every viewer is free to interpret them just the way they want to. Here "the power of the imagination" (which could be an equally suitable title for the film) gets a double-meaning. The audience is given an opportunity to experience the same kind of confusion that Chand herself goes through.

Preity Zinta, in one of the finest performances of her career, is nothing short of spectacular as the struggling Chand. Heartfelt, nuanced, haunting and heartbreaking, this portrayal does not have a single false note. This role is contrary to Zinta's own image of a strong woman of substance, as well as most of her on-screen roles. And she pulls it so convincingly that it's almost impossible to believe it is the same woman who played so many happy-go-lucky characters in previous years. She displays helplessness, fear, despair, and at the same time a certain hope for a better day, with amazing subtlety, depth and pathos. Much of it is internal actually, and all you need to know is in her eyes. Just note the scene when she is looking through the bus window. There's so much pain in her eyes. It's just one bit of a really great performance. All the other cast members do a fine job and provide great support.

Overall, Heaven on Earth is an extraordinary, deep and intelligent piece, with a view on the social values of today's world. Mehta's presentation of the issue is correct, it's not one-sided and not biased. There are no bad or good people in this film. The characters in this film are all victims of the society. I loved this concept, I appreciated the well-written dialogues, the realistic and unexpected proceedings. The film is brilliantly directed and edited. It is definitely not for everyone, it is not particularly entertaining and many may consider it slow and tedious. It is only for those who can go through a difficult sight, flow with the story, and understand its meaning. I tried to do it, and I personally consider it a great social film with a very meaningful message, as well as a wonderful glimpse into a person's mind, who can be full of optimism and positivity despite the sad reality.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Fantasy of the Moon

Author: Chrysanthepop from Fraggle Rock
5 June 2009

The main complaint about 'Heaven on Earth' seems to be in regard with its slow pace. I was quite engaged by the film and the pacing did not bother me at all. It only made it better that Mehta took her time to unfold Chand's character more. Many have stated that Chand lacked development and this I disagree with. The film centers around Chand's struggle with her new life and her character is excellently written. The mother-in-law was portrayed as one-dimensional.

Speaking of writing, I think Mehta did a very good job with the story and I loved the Chand's beautiful monologues. Her use of symbolism and mythology is effective. The film is delicately shot mostly with hand-held camera. I like how Mehta distinguishes the private moments of the characters with black and white. The washed out colours only stress on the tense atmosphere. In terms of execution, 'Heaven on Earth' is on par with 'Water' (which was also stunningly filmed) but I think the former ranks as her best.

Preity Zinta delivers one of the finest performances of her career. She is like one has never seen before. Her portrayal of Chand is subtle, nuanced, heartbreaking and strong. I used to admire Zinta a lot during her pre-'Kal Ho Na Ho' days and saw a very promising actress in her. However, I almost gave up on her when she limited herself on doing movies with the Khans and Yashraj. Now I am glad to see her back on track and hope she keeps doing great work. In my humble opinion, Mehta's 'Heaven on Earth' is a winner and definitely miles better than the not-even-good-enough-for-TV types like 'Provoked'.

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10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Amazing Film!!!

10/10
Author: pannugurpreet2007 from Australia
24 March 2009

I don't agree with the earlier review about this being a terrible film. The story is interesting and you are curious throughout where the storyline is gonna go. However, the best thing about this film is the acting---wonderful WONDERFUL acting by ~PREITY ZINTA~. Well done Preity! Vishal is also good. And also the high ratings are not given by the Indian audience in fact it is given by non-Indian viewers. The movie still hasn't released in India...just so you know. If you are in the mood for something ~REALISTIC~, go out and watch this mind-blowing movie.I absolutely loved this movie and I am sure you will love it too is you liked movies such as Monsoon Wedding ,Provoked, etc.

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11 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Deepa Mehta does it again!

9/10
Author: chimps_n_pimps from India
27 March 2009

A subtle exploration of the human mind that will be lost on the masses.

This is a film that confronts so many issues in a very muted and delicate manner. No, I am not talking about domestic abuse. This is an explosive issue, and is dealt with as such. It leaves marks in peoples life, and we see those marks, repeatedly. The issues of expectations…of survival…of denial, these are the ones to watch out for. The occasional black and white shots serve as understated milestones documenting the journey. Many are criticising this film for its lack of three-dimensionality. To those I say: LOOK CLOSER! An intelligent audience doesn't need to see all out, emotional, crying scene to justify actions. A man sitting in a car, lost in though, is more than enough. Rocky isn't shown as a monster, he is shown as a very flawed man who doesn't understand how to deal with his problems, taking his anger out on those weaker than him. Chand is who she is. A girl in a new land. A girl lost in her imagination. A girl with expectations. A girl with wishes. A girl who, in her own way, creates the world she desires. We, as the viewers of this small snapshot in a girl's life, are forced to consider the definitions of mental health. Who is insane? The one that hallucinates? The one that is violent? The one that manipulates? The one that witnesses? Or even the one that helps? I will not even mention technical aspects such as cinematography, editing, sound, lighting etc. This is a Deepa Mehta film and as usual, the highest standard is shown. A special mention must be made of the poetry. And, of course, the acting of one Preity Zinta. Who would have thought her performance could have so much credibility? I for one am very pleasantly surprised, and expect great things from her. A must watch for those looking for a real film, no entertainment here, just vigorous thought provocation.

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20 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Excruciating and Beautiful

10/10
Author: ellenshifrin from Canada
21 November 2008

Heaven on Earth is both excruciating and incredibly beautiful. It's this juxtaposition, along with the magical realism, that pulls us in, chains us to our seats, keeps our eyes and ears open, and exposes our hearts to the intensity of the situation. It opens us to Chand's vulnerability and strength, and commands us to be vulnerable and strong in turn.

The story is told elsewhere, so I won't talk about it here. Preity's performance is amazing, and she deserves any award she gets for this. And everyone else in the cast is also terrific. Like all Mehta's film's, it's literate, beautifully shot and edited, and takes on an issue no one really wants to talk about, let alone see up on a big screen.

While it might not be for everyone, Heaven on Earth is for those with the heart and strength to bare the onslaught of Chand's suffering and her escapes into imagination. The film has stayed with me since I saw it about a month ago. I hope it always does.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Mehta's Keen Vision

8/10
Author: billcr12 from United States
22 July 2012

Heaven on Earth is another excellent film by director Deepa Mehta, whose previous work, Water was also very good. This time, she tackles the subject of arranged marriages.

Vibrant travels from Punjab, India to Ontario, Canada, to meet her prospective husband, Rocky. At first she loves the Great North, with its snow and natural beauty. The optimism is short lived, however, as the reality of a household consisting of Rocky's interfering mother, disinterested father, and a sister married to a man without a job, bring many problems. The tension is palpable, as the financial burdens fall on Vibrant's husband.

The suffering bride works at a laundry cleaning factory, and is befriended by Rosa, a co- worker who gives her a magic root to place in her husband's drink to make him fall in love with her. Of course, the magic potion does not work, despite Vibrant's best efforts. The home situation worsens, and the young bride must make some difficult choices. Although not as good as Water, Chopra is a natural storyteller with a keen eye, and she makes Heaven on Earth a realistic and all to human drama.

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10 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Worth Watching!

10/10
Author: Pratik Jasani from United Kingdom
24 March 2009

This definitely makes one wonder as to what a woman has to go through and in particular if she has to move from one country to another and live with people that she, at first, doesn't really know, she has to adjust as well as adopt to the way they live. A woman, who is married, leaves northern India, to live with her husband who she is meeting for the first time as well as her in laws, is a very good example of this setting, which captivates one from the beginning till the end.

Directed and written by Deepa Mehta, and known as "Videsh – Heaven on Earth," in other parts of the world, the movie stars, Preity Zinta, Balinder Johal, Rajinder Singh Cheema and Vansh Bhardwaj.

The theme of this also deals with domestic violence, which, in many parts of the world, is on the increase and how it really affects children and this is shown in its true colours in this film. Preity Zinta, what can be said about her performance? Absolutely spot on as is the performance by Vansh Bhardwaj. But what really captures the mood of this movie is the photographic technique used by the director – semiotics, where some scenery is filmed in black and white to make it a bit conspicuous from the others and in particular one of the Niagara Falls. There are certain aspects of the movie, which also make it a bit light and will probably make one laugh.

With films such as "Water," "Bollywood / Hollywood," "Earth" and "Fire," Director Deepa Mehta has gone on to add this one on a list of films that can be said, is worth watching.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Old wine in new bottle

8/10
Author: mehrin-shahed from Bangladesh
15 February 2010

I have borrowed all lines from other reviews to make a summary of my own:

A vibrant and lovely girl, Preity Zinta as Chand flies to Canada to marry a man she has never met. Ironically enough, Chand's new family in the First World lives a poor, miserable lifestyle. Soon Chand becomes a brutally battered and abused wife who bears the brunt of her husband, Rocky's frustration. An intelligent audience doesn't need to see all out, emotional, crying scene to justify actions. A man sitting in a car, lost in though, is more than enough. Rocky isn't shown as a monster, he is shown as a very flawed man who doesn't understand how to deal with his problems, taking his anger out on those weaker than him.

Chand is who she is. A girl in a new land. A girl with expectations. Trapped within a system of willing accomplices. She suffers, she aches, she misses her mother, her country, she is desperate thinking that she will have to live the rest of her life with a bunch of monsters, yet she never really loses her sense of life. She does not blame anyone, she does not hate anyone, she seeks solace using her imagination. She creates a world that is better, and lives it. She creates a "Heaven on Earth".

It may be slow paced but it’s still engaging and compact. This is a film that confronts so many issues in a very muted and delicate manner. No, I am not talking about domestic abuse. This is an explosive issue, and is dealt with as such. There are issues of expectations…of survival…of denial, of how young ones react - the subtle explorations of the human mind and nature - these are the ones to watch out for.

We, as the viewers of this small snapshot in a girl's life, are forced to consider the definitions of mental health. Who is insane? The one that hallucinates? The one that is violent? The one that manipulates? The one that witnesses? All silently-screaming puppets on a string being maneuvered into a life of domesticated dereliction by forces that we could designate as fate or just cruel blows of workaday drudgery…

Deepa Mehta stays away from the stereotypical 'Don't-hit-me' pitiable victim and also 'I'll-hit-you-back' kind of liberating experience approach. Mehta doesn't play out any moments of redemption or payback. She simply offers us survival, intelligently integrating magical realism in a rather artistic way. Every time Chand is maltreated by her husband, she starts whispering beautiful, beautiful poetry. When she's alone, she imagines a better life, she imagines she is a beloved woman and wife. All the sequences involving the snake may be confusing and unclear, but what I find great about these essentially surreal incidents is that every viewer is free to interpret them just the way he/she wants to.

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11 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Slow and steady does not win this time

5/10
Author: aniketc-iitkgp from India
28 March 2009

Excruciatingly slow is the best way to describe this movie...I had trouble keeping my eyes open in the end..A Deepa Mehta movie is generally a good viewing...but this one disappointed me..The idea of the SheshNag was something I found hard to digest...Moreover the mythological story was told in a disjointed manner which made it pretty hard to follow...The performances are good...especially by Vansh who has the intensity required to portray the character of 'Rocky'..and Preity Zinta does give the right expressions..but seems too old to be playing a newly married girl..

5/10

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3 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

very very slow and boring movie

1/10
Author: raman_arora from United States
4 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of the worst movie I have ever seen.

The starting 10mins is the only good part of the movie showing traditional Punjabi music / songs. After that it becomes slow... slower and slowest... and never picks up the pace.... This was 106 minute movie... and feels like 306 minutes

there are pin drop silent moments which could have been done better by adding background score... There were many scenes which makes no sense or could have been easily edited .... so that was also not upto the mark...

Preity Zinta did good acting... her good work was literally wasted in this worthless movie....

I would not recommend this movie to anyone...

*** CONTAINS SPOILER ***

No one expects adding factitious stuff like KING COBRA in the film.. this is really good topic and could have been done / presented in much better way... I had very high expectations from a reputed director like Deepa Mehta...

Also the place where the kid throws the dentures of his grandpa into drain should be after he is told that his bed will be taken by his uncle... so cinematography is not up to the par either...

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