Heavenly Creatures: 1994
Cast: Kate Winslet, Melanie Lynskey
Writers: Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson
Director: Peter Jackson
Before Peter Jackson made this movie, he was known for his schlocky low-budget horror flicks: “Bad Taste“, “Meet The Feebles“, and “Dead Alive“. Each one found its cult audience and I highly admire what was put into them with such a small budget. However, if you told someone today that these were made by the same director of “The Lord Of The Rings” trilogy, most people would think you were crazy. “Heavenly Creatures” was a very important film in Mr. Jackson‘s career. It was the turning point where he went from making films worthy of Troma to Academy Award winning classics.
This true life story concerns the lives of two girls living in New Zealand during the early sixties. Pauline Parker (Melanie Lynskey) is the quiet, shy one who doesn’t like to speak up much. Juliet Hume (Kate Winslet) is very vocal in her opinions and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. The two begin a friendship based on their like of singer Mario Lanza and later begin to write a fantasy story involving characters they have created. The worlds they have created start to become more and more real. They have a hard time distinguishing one from another. Juliet’s father (Clive Merrison) becomes convinced that the two are beginning a heavy love affair and, during that time period, homosexuality was considered to be a mental disorder. Both sets of parents believe that separating the two may help stop their relationship, but the end result is even more tragic.
Peter Jackson‘s attention to visuals are amazing. There are scenes when they describe their dream world that are very reminiscent of the L.O.T.R. trilogy. After all, this movie was the one that helped Jackson get the job for those movies. He knows how to shoot the fantasy and make it real and the real life and make it into a fantasy.
These are the first roles for both Winselt and Lynskey and both woman are phenomenal. You can see very clearly from the first scene why Miss. Winslet is one of our best actresses living today. Miss. Lynskey has been in feature films such as “Up In The Air” and was a recurring cast member on “Two and A Half Men“, but for me hasn’t really stood out like she did in this.
SPOILERS**** IF YOU HAVEN”T SEEN THE MOVIE STOP READING NOW.
Pauline believes that her mother is the one to blame for not allowing her to go with Juliet and her parents. So, she gets Juliet to help kill her mother in a very horrific fashion. Since both woman were under the age of 15, they were too young for the death penalty. They were separated and both lived in prison for only six years. When Juliet Hume was released, she became a mystery writer under the name Anne Perry. Pauline Parker changed her name to Hilary Nathan and became a devout Catholic who helps the handicapped.
I would love to see the continuation of this story and show the girls’ transformation of being homicidal killers to finally finding some sort of redemption. That was not Mr. Jackson and Miss. Walsh‘s main point of the story. They were just trying to show this world through the eyes of their two main characters. If this were done through another character’s eyes, the movie would have had a very different tone. This is a horror movie, but it’s still a story of friendship and has the intensity of one. Focusing on just the horror aspect would have just cheapened the movie into just another gore fest.
I have seen videos of the real life Hume discussing her crimes and it’s uncomfortable to see how easily she can talk about killing another person. Yet, at the same time, I’m sure it’s a demon that she has become adjusted too. The consequences of what she did probably still haunt her, but it’s hard to say. Very fascinating story.
(A Very Cool Behind The Scenes Video about the making of this movie)
Also check out a really cool episode of As You Watch Podcast where myself and others discuss this film. Just click on the link.