← Back to Reviews

Heavenly Creatures

Heavenly Creatures -

A disturbing yet beautiful and fantastical true crime tale about Pauline and Juliet, two New Zealanders who are high schoolers, outsiders, soul mates and murderers.* While their hometown of Christchurch is picturesque and a nice place to raise a family, it's also oppressively patriarchal and old-fashioned, which makes it easy to understand why the girls developed a fantasy world for themselves.* With its medieval castles, gardens, costumes and life-size clay figures resembling those Pauline and Juliet mold in art class, Peter Jackson makes their world captivating and odd, not to mention slightly Gilliamesque.* It's also easy to see why the best friends would turn to crime to remain in their world, a certainty that becomes less certain thanks to a marital affair, Juliet's medical condition and cold, harsh reality.* Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet are as good as you'd expect as the best friends, especially for the unique and subtle ways they express their disgust with a world that seemingly everyone else goes along with despite its ridiculousness and oppresiveness.* I also very much like the swooping, slightly manic and Sam Raimi-adjacent camerawork, and going back to the fantasy world, it has practical and digital effects including early morphing technology that still hold up.* All in all, the movie succeeds at capturing how it feels to be an outsider in your adolescence, to be with that one person who understands you and the comfort of fantasy during that difficult period without discounting the harshness of the girls' crime.* I love Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies as much as the next Tolkien devotee, but this may be the director's masterpiece.