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Awesome: 26.47%
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3 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Heaven (2002)
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by John Rice

"A philosophical and visual gem."
5 stars

With his 2 previous films "Run Lola Run" and "The Princess and the Warrior" Director Tom Tykwer has shown a continuing fascination with fate and the unexplainable aspects of human behavior. With "Heaven" Tykwer has both refined his style and taken his tendency toward almost outrageous implausibility to the extreme with a result that will thrill some and outrage others.

In 1998, German Director Tom Tykwer gained wide international attention and acclaim with his low budget, streamlined, fate questioning film Run Lola Run. He followed up in 2000 with the significantly more ambitious Princess and the Warrior, a film which also had a similar theme, exploring the dynamics of fate. His most recent film, Heaven, is the first he has not written himself, (it was written by Krzystof Kieslowski and Krzystof Piesiewicz) but seems like a revisiting of Warrior, if not virtually a thematic remake.

Still, the two films are sufficiently different. Where Warrior can be a bit bloated, losing focus late in the film by taking a few too many spins, Heaven is nearly 40 minutes shorter, running a concise 97 minutes. Still, fans of Warrior are likely to find much to enjoy in Heaven.

Heaven begins with Philippa Paccard (Cate Blanchett) preparing a small bomb in her Italian apartment. She takes it to a large office building and deposits it in the trash can of an unidentified man's office. It will eventually become quite obvious why she has set out to kill this man, but at this time her plan goes horribly awry and four unintended people die. Philippa is soon arrested and several days of interrogation begin. The police are under the impression she has committed a terrorist act, but the truth comes out in bits and pieces as the interrogation progresses. The real reason for her actions is disturbing enough to make even the Police Detective, who initially yells at her relentlessly, to sit back in mild shock. When Philippa finally spells out the consequences of her target's actions on the second or third day of interrogation, the previously undaunted officer can only shake his head in silence.

At the beginning of the interrogation, the second principal character, Filippo (Giovanni Ribisi) is introduced. Filippo is almost instantly and mysteriously taken by the presence of Philippa. He soon learns she is his younger brother's English teacher and is told how much the younger brother admires her. For mostly unexplained reasons, he decides to help her. This is one of the main areas where Heaven asks the viewer to simply ride with the story. Though this movie seems like a slice of reality at first, it is more an exploration of faith and the mysterious motivations which drive our actions.

Philippa and Filippo eventually embark on a journey which is as philosophical as it is physical. The final act has them traveling from a cold, restrictive world to one which is warm and organic. This transition is not subtle, but happens in an instant as the train they ride in emerges from a tunnel into the Tuscan countryside. The imagery in the final 30 minutes is so lush and inviting, it is almost overwhelming. Tykwer is a director who doesn't shy away from strong, beautiful visuals, often almost to his detriment, and Heaven is no exception. During the final few minutes the film nearly crosses into the surreal as the fate of the two main characters, with virtually no dialog, reaches its unconventional conclusion. It is often this conclusion which nudges the viewer into the "love it" category or pushes them right over the edge into "hate it."

The first time I saw Heaven, I basically sat numb for a few minutes as the credits rolled. I didn't, and probably still don't quite know what about it moves me so profoundly. The lost feeling of the two main characters at the beginning and their almost haphazard journey to "freedom" may be one. The connection and trust developed between two people who hardly know each other may be another. In the end, Heaven is sort of an existential Thelma and Louise. The two films, in fact, have a great deal in common, though the way they are told is quite different.

One similarity between these two films is an ending which thrills some and aggravates others. If anything, the ending of Heaven is probably even more annoying to some, if not many viewers, with its religious implications and all the baggage that includes. Some viewers are genuinely offended by what they perceive the ending to imply. For me, it is one of the film's greatest strengths. Like the wonderful and fairly controversial ending to the 2001 film Donnie Darko, the final frames of Heaven create more questions than they answer. (This review originally appeared on Slacker-Reviews.com.)

"Heaven" is a visually stunning, almost surreal experience.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6178&reviewer=373
originally posted: 08/09/04 02:23:10
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User Comments

10/17/10 millersxing Think Ron Howard has seen this? Angels and Demons anyone? Tykwer's 2nd best to Lola rennt. 4 stars
8/04/10 brian Only Kieslowski could have made this film perfectly. Tykwer is adequate. 4 stars
1/08/09 Mercedes good story, beautiful to look at... 4 stars
11/27/08 Shaun Wallner Great story! 4 stars
9/07/08 mr.mike Ribisi surprisingly good , film is unremarkable. 3 stars
5/13/07 Eva Fantastic and beautiful 5 stars
10/11/05 Lloyd Beautifully filmed with some great images. Slow at times, acting was great. 3 stars
6/14/05 K. Sear Hypnotic and strangely compelling. 4 stars
3/19/05 Natasha Theobald an impressive collection of talent has joined together to make this affecting tale 4 stars
10/10/04 Mary This was one of the best films I have ever seen, simply beautiful 5 stars
8/13/04 Dude Disappointingbut pretty... loved twyker's previous two... lacks kieslowski's own touch... 3 stars
5/30/04 lisa bad 1 stars
7/21/03 paul fernandez a worthy tribute to Kieslowski. Blanchett is great!!! 4 stars
10/07/02 Pierce Lanson Beautiful images,acting, Cate, story,LOVELY film 5 stars
10/02/02 Heavenly Cate Blanchett is wonderful 4 stars
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  04-Oct-2002 (R)



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