Heavenly Creatures (1994) Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet, Sarah Peirse, Diana Kent Movie Review

Heavenly Creatures (1994)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Fatal Fantasists

When Juliet Hulme (Kate Winslet) arrived at school her out spoken nature grabbed the attention of the withdrawn Pauline Parker (Melanie Lynskey). Soon these two become close, spending all their free time together and even when Juliet becomes ill with tuberculosis they keep in touch writing long letters and concocting vast fantasies together as they let their joint imaginations run wild. Their closeness worries Pauline's mother who fears their youthful friendship might end up more who tries to separate them but in doing so causes a most gruesome turn of events when they decide to murder her.

I remember watching "Heavenly Creatures" as a young twenty something back in 1994 having up until then pretty much watched only movies that appealed to me. So basically "Heavenly Creatures" was me taking steps outside of my comfort zone and unsurprisingly I didn't enjoy it, in fact I wondered what all the fuss was about as there were people raving about this movie not having realised that the majority of those who were raving about it were film critics and students of film schools rather than the average movie fan in the street. The thing is having watched "Heavenly Creatures" again twenty years later my opinion hasn't changed.

Melanie Lynskey in Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Now maybe my issues stems from never having heard of the true story, Parker–Hulme murder case, on which this story is based and so rather than seeing this as a movie which builds to a murder, hinted at in the opening scene, what I got was a movie about two children with problems. On one hand you had the withdrawn Pauline and on the other you have the extroverted Juliet but both are seemingly played ridiculously over the top by a then young Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey.

And that is the thing about "Heavenly Creatures" as director Peter Jackson has focused on the friendship and youthful imagination of Hulme and Parker with its fantasy elements which whilst allowing him to be creative in his visualisation. But it is not what I wanted to watch when you have a movie about a murder; I wanted a more believable focus on how these two became so close rather than cinematic creativity.

What this all boils down to is that I can understand why many loved "Heavenly Creatures" on its release because Peter Jackson approached a true story in a creative manner and a focus on the characters rather than the crime which allowed for a more creative approach. But it wasn't for me as it turned "Heavenly Creatures" from being a movie about a crime to a movie about two over the top characters although there is no denying that it is a well made movie.