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flick pick | Heavenly Creatures 1994
Directed by:
Peter Jackson

Kate Winslet, Melanie Lynskey
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under:
foreign [New Zealand], drama
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:
artsy-fartsy, disturbing, fantastical

Plot synopsis Based on an actual crime that occurred back in the 1950s, this is the story of two New Zealand schoolgirls, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme. From the first moment that exuberant and glamorous Juliet is brought to class and introduced as the new student, mousy Pauline is completely taken with her. Although they’re wildly different on the outside (Juliet is the quintessential beautiful rich girl, while Pauline is chubby, quiet, sullen and poor) the two girls share a history of childhood illness and a highly creative spirit, and become instant best friends. Together, they weave a legion of fairytale characters and storybook worlds in which they give their vivid imaginations free reign to play. When it’s clear just how inseparable Juliet and Pauline have become, however, their parents – concerned by the change in their daughters’ behaviors and more than a tad homophobic – attempt to pry the girls apart. The threat of separation only draws them closer together; united now in their hatred towards their parents, they begin to throw their considerable energies towards plotting to get rid of the people who stand in their way.

Review Everyone, at some point in their life, has known a Juliet. Charismatic, melodramatic, and moody, she has an irresistible energy that sucks all attention in her direction, at all times. It’s both exhausting and irresistible. So it’s certainly easy to see why Pauline becomes enthralled with Juliet – but what’s interesting is how Juliet becomes besotted with Pauline as well, so much so that in the end, it’s Pauline who’s clearly taken charge, with Juliet somewhat nervously following along. The relationship between the two girls is intensely complex and mesmerizing, and both Kate Winslet – all golden beauty and radiating pure star quality -- and Melanie Lynskey – intriguingly sulky and the very essence of teenage mopiness -- turn in superb performances. The fantasy sequences – a weird and unsettling mix of the macabre and the sublime – are stunningly art-directed and gorgeously filmed, and the movie begins to take on a lushly surreal quality when fantasy world and real-life begin to merge in the girls minds. Director Peter Jackson turns a story that would make primo TV-movie-of-the-week fare into a near-flawless work of art. 


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