Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On DVD: A true story of true love


While watching "Heavenly Creatures" I became aware of a feeling and a mindset which both eluded me for so long I'd almost forgotten them.
It's a testament to the film's ability to vividly portray emotion that a viewer can watch what's on the screen, have something buried inside them stirred and then think to themselves, "I remember that."
The "that" I refer to is a period of time during youth in which all the complexities of the world are pushed aside as one is enveloped in a warm, safe and blissful blanket of infatuation. It's unlikely anyone inside this blanket looks at the future because they're so enthralled with the present and when the future is glimpsed, it is only happy and perfect, the way life is now. Nobody in this state imagines their world changing for anything but the best, and when something inevitably interrupts, threatens or even ends this personal utopia, it is devastating, crushing and bleak. "Heavenly Creatures" is a story of what two people did when their utopia was endangered.
Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey portray the real-life lovers Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker, who in 1954 New Zealand murdered Parker's mother because she stood in the way of their togetherness.
Winslet is now one of the industry's most revered and consistently successful actresses and the skill and truth she brings to her roles is evident in this, her first film.
Upon introduction in the film, Winslet is plucky and energetic, the light to Lynskey's brooding Parker. The two soon form a close and inseparable bond, which causes consternation and later fear as Juliet's father recommends a specialist for Pauline to visit because he's concerned an unhealthy relationship is forming. After consulting with Pauline, the specialist reluctantly and with trepidation tells her mother she may be a homosexual.
He appears to have great difficulty saying the word, which is more pushed out of his mouth than spoken.
When the girls are together, they venture into fantasy sequences and through the magic of special effects, their minds take them to a personal Utopia.
It is during these sequences the movie wavers slightly by veering off course from the central story of the girls. Yes, the sequences are meant to visually represent the joy and wonder the two feel together, but the scenes of clay figurines come to life are not necessary and eventually grow tiresome, stalling the story rather than enriching it.
Winslet does a superb job of inhabiting the role of Juliet and is thoroughly convincing as being so enamored with her companion she cannot fathom a meaningful existence without her.
The girls' parents do not understand their attachment and with the experience of age view this impending separation as a bump in the road of life, while to the girls it's the end of everything worth living for. An affecting scene has the two girls on the phone with each other, sobbing and trying to figure out a way to stay together. I found myself genuinely moved and the two actresses are perfect together in this wrenching moment.
It doesn't reveal a secret to write the true story's conclusion is not a happy one and when it comes tot he brutal conclusion it is shocking and gasp-inducing.
"Heavenly Creatures" is wonderfully unique, love story worthy of being seen.

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