Heavenly Creatures

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -3

Christchurch, New Zealand, 1952. Withdrawn 12-year-old Pauline Reiper (Melanie Lynskey) comes from a poor family, but attends a private girls' school. When precocious Juliet Heme (Kate Winslet), the well-traveled daughter of a doctor, enters the school, the two girls become best friends, fantasizing about The Fourth World, a place "just like heaven, except there are no Christians there." When Juliet is stricken with tuberculosis and bed-ridden, they correspond with Pauline pretending to be the male hero, and Juliet the female. When Juliet leaves the hospital, the two are inseparable. Angered by their parents' attempts to separate them because the relationship may be developing into more than friendship, Pauline becomes depressed and suicidal. Pauline and Juliet conspire to kill Pauline's mother, thinking that will enable them to stay together. HEAVENLY CREATURES is based on a true story and is a well-done "art" film, featuring fine performances and some great effects. However, you leave the theater asking, "Why did they make this film?"

The answer may lie in the filmmaker's apparent dislike for Christians and sympathy for homosexuals. When Juliet describes the Fourth World as being just like heaven, except no Christians, the audience at the art house theater where this film was screened erupted in applause. When Juliet is visited by a minister in the hospital, he "thrusts" a scripture pamphlet at her. She fantasizes that he is carried off by a Fourth Worlder and beheaded. Pauline has a sexual experience with a male boarder at her house, and later she and Juliet have several lesbian encounters, shown in a positive light. A doctor's description of homosexuality as a disease or abnormality drew jeers and laughter from the art house crowd. Pauline and Juliet take turns bludgeoning Pauline's mother in a scene that is graphic and bloody. The final moment of the film informs us that, after their jail terms, the two girls were released, with a stipulation that they never see each other again. Boo hoo. These creatures are anything but heavenly. Thankfully in very limited distribution, HEAVENLY CREATURES should be easy to avoid.

Preview Reviewer: Pete Zimowski
Miramax Films, 18 E. 48th St., NY, NY 10017

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (13) times - Mild 4, Moderate 9

Obscene Language: Once

Profanity: Exclamatory 3 times

Violence: Few times - Moderate and Severe (mother slaps daughter; young girls bludgeon mother to death with a brick - bloody and graphic; fantasy of a minister beheaded and a doctor cleaved in two with a sword - not shown)

Sex: Once, no nudity (young girl and man); implied in brief glimpses of an orgy in a fantasy sequence

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times

Drugs: None

Other: Ridicule of Christians

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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