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Heaven (2002)
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Review Date: August 26, 2002
Director: Tom Tykwer
Writer: Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Producers: Stefan Arndt, Maria Köpf
Actors:
Cate Blanchett as Philippa Paccard
Giovanni Ribisi as Filippo
Mattia Sbragia as Major Pini
Plot:
A British woman accused of bombing a building in Italy, killing four people, is brought to jail and questioned. Confused and angry, the woman breaks down in front of her interrogators, one of whom falls in love with her. How much does he love her? Well, he's willing to help her escape...that's how much! An artsy prison break, symbolic love and great looking country-sides ensue.
Critique:
With RUN LOLA RUN, director Tom Tykwer gave many the impression that he might just be a "flashy" director, but the truth seems to have come out in his next two film productions, THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR, which was a slow and meandering fantasy, and this picture, which is a love story, but told in an extremely mannered (read: slow) and overly-symbolic fashion. I'm not sure which director he really is (I assume that he's a bit of both-- showy and pretentious), but no matter what style he adopts to direct a picture, he sure does know how to make 'em look real pretty, I'll tell you that much. In the case of HEAVEN, being set in Italy, you can't help but be enamored by the gorgeous scenery, the locales, the beautiful towns and villages...all of which made me want to slap on a backpack and travel the world, before waking back up to the reality of my own shitty life in front of the computer and picking up that Malibu Rum bottle again. But I digress. The film also features a couple of powerful performances from the always reliable Cate Blanchett, continuing to show the world that she has the range of a Meryl Streep, and Giovanni Ribisi, who could not have chosen a role more different than the weird/creepy guy that he seemed to have been typecast as over the past few years, as a sensitive, Italian soul (and yes, he actually speaks Italian for a greater part of the film...and well!) who cannot help but follow his heart.

Unfortunately for the film, its picturesque settings and its solid actors...the story itself is actually quite vapid. I didn't buy the so-called "love" between these two characters (they also looked kind of a like a mom/son at times), the pacing was too slow (how come it takes characters 5-10 seconds to answer simple questions...c'mon, speak up already!!) and ultimately, the movie seemed more interested in flaunting its symbolism, than driving an intriguing narrative, which after the first engaging half hour, bored me something fierce. The tepid chemistry between the two leads and the logistical issues that I had with their escape from prison also gnawed at me, as well as the fact that I never truly saw or felt Blanchett's character "falling" for Ribisi. If this is what "love" is for the art-house crowd...they can keep it! I believe in sensuality, I like to see and feel characters loving one another, falling for one another and reverberating that passion all over the screen. What's with all this helicopter business? C'mon man...a little symbolism goes a long way but if that's the only thing on which you're gonna base your "love story", you can stick it where the sun don't shine! Of course, as per most of my reviews, I say "to each his own", and just as THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR was appreciated by many a folk (not moi), the buddy to my left hand side loved this flick, its symbolism and its artsiness...so there you go. It certainly does "look" great and Ribisi is to be commended, but at the end of the day...the film is about as predictable as they come, the love story is vacant and the characters didn't grow on me one bit. A disappointment.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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