Heavenly Creatures

Wow! Just saw this 1994 film — what took me so long? — and now Heavenly Creatures will clearly be added to the list of my top ten all-time favorite movies (though I’m not yet sure which entry it will displace). As I vaguely knew, and as you probably know, it’s based on a true story that took place in 1952, when I was much too young to be aware of the event, in which two teenage girls in New Zealand killed one of their mothers. So it’s something of a “true crime” story. But the truth of the narrative is almost irrelevant, as this evocative and riveting movie by Peter Jackson wouldn’t have lost any of its power even if it had been totally fictional. What’s particularly mesmerizing is the Fellini-esque use of realistic fantasy. I don’t mean Jackson’s combo of realism and fantasy in The Lord of the Rings, although that too is a powerful mix; what strikes me as Fellini-esque is the totally realistic, even mundane, setting interspersed with scenes out of the protagonists’s minds. You really feel that you’re getting into their heads. The interaction between the psychology and the visual beauty of the photography is what makes the film completely memorable.

Whether it’s true crime or psychological thriller, go see it if you haven’t done so.

By the way, we now know that one of the girls changed her name when she got out of prison; she is now Anne Perry, the well-known British mystery author. I haven’t read any of her works, but I suppose at this point I really should.

Categories: Movies & (occasionally) TV