Heaven

Heaven is the first installment of a heaven/hell/purgatory trilogy (co-written by Krzysztof Piesiewicz) planned by the late, Oscar-nominated Krzysztof Kieslowski.  Unfortunately, Kieslowsky died before the last two scripts were finished.  It’s a damn shame too, Heaven is a spellbinding and powerful piece that will enchant you.

The film is directed by Tom Tykwer, the wicked talented guy who brought us Run Lola Run.  It takes place in Italy, where a woman named Philippa (Cate Blanchett) plants a bomb in the office of a business man who’s money really comes from selling drugs.  Philippa’s husband died from the drugs sold by this man, and as a teacher, has watched her pre-teen students enter rehab for the same reason.  She’s sent letters, made calls to the police, letting them know about this man’s illegal doings, but after more than a year of ambivalence, she takes matters into her own hands.  The bomb is unknowingly removed by a maid, and goes off in an elevator, killing a small family.  Philippa is arrested, and begins interrogations, for which Filippo (Giovanni Ribisi) serves as translator (Philippa, insists on testifying in English).  He falls in love with her and decides to help her escape.

The film is incredibly beautiful.  We’re shown an idealized Italy, that everyone wants to exist.  The problem comes with the story, which lacks the knowledge of where it’s going most of the time.  This is the film’s weakest link as it drags a little, and is somewhat underdeveloped.  At certain points, the plot defies logic, and doesn’t offer any explanation of why.  However, in my opinion, it doesn’t need to.  It’s so stunning to look at, Heaven has a surreal feel, that almost makes it seem like a fairytale.  A gorgeous score, and the somewhat open-ended final scene supports this theory.  For some this is a problem, for most others, they’ll be carried away by the beauty of the piece.

Don’t let the synopsis fool you into thinking this is fast-paced action piece where the two main characters run from the police the whole time.  This is competent meditation on morals, guilt, and what love is worth.  If you enjoy thinking, you’ll be pondering this film for days after you see it.  Ribisi performs well (he’s required to speak Italian much of the movie, but he does well enough that this doesn’t distract).  However, it’s Blanchett who steals the spotlight.  Her performance will shake you to your very core.  This is another piece of evidence for the argument she’s one of the greatest actors of her generation (move over Streep).

★★★½

Rottentomatoes: 73%Cream of the Crop:68%

This is the only trailer I could find, and it makes it look like a retarded kid made the film.  Don’t believe it.

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