Heavenly Creatures (1994) – Peter Jackson

I’m closing in on the end of DK Canada’s The Movie Book, as I explore its last section, The Director. And it brings me a Peter Jackson film that isn’t set in Middle Earth (it is in New Zealand, however, and I recognise a lot of the names in the credits as those he has worked with for decades) and isn’t a horror film, per se.

The true story from the 1950s of Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme is brought to life by Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet, respectively. The pair were close friends in Christchurch, sharing a love of literature and fantasy.

Their relationship becomes obsessive and their parents, especially Pauline’s mother, Honora (Sarah Peirse), look to keep them separated.  Revenge comes to their minds, and the pair, who are nigh inseparable, plan to kill her.

As the pairs relationship deepens, they feed into one another’s realities and fantasies, sharing a private world together. But things get complicated with a medical condition, and Pauline’s mother’s decision that the two should be apart.

There’s a wonderful chemistry between Winslet and Lynskey, and the film also makes sure to show off Jackson’s sense of humour, and film aesthetics and style that have informed almost all of his films (and of course his cameo).

heavenly-creatures And as they continue to indulge one another, the threat of what is to come is unavoidable. To add to the grounding and reality of the film, all of the narration conducted by Pauline from her journals, are the real thing.

Jackson has an even hand in his telling of the story, which no doubt surprised a number of his fans at the time considering his previous works. It’s a departure for the director, but is masterfully done, and shows a wonderful faith in his cast, especially in Lynskey and Winslet to carry the emotion and narrative of the film.

The murder at the climax of the film is sudden, bloody, and yet, tastefully done. The lead up to it shows how committed to it both girls are, though Juliet seems more anxious about it than Pauline.

Jackson brings their fantastical world to life with practised ease (even then) and knows to keep it at the edges of the film, as opposed to completely submerging the entire film into the depths of the girl’s imaginations and fantastical escapes.

It feels like a truthful retelling of the events, and it brings the crime to life in a way that captivated audiences.

DK Books’ The Movie Book has proven to be a boon to my cinematic education, and if you pick up a copy you can find a new to you classic or old favourite to watch tonight.



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