I always wondered how Peter Jackson, director of The Cars That Ate Paris, Dead Alive, and Meet the Feebles, convinced big studio execs to give him millions of dollars to make a Lord of the Rings triology. I think one of the answers to that question is Heavenly Creatures, which I finally got around to watching a couple weeks ago (I know. I know. It’s been forever since I’ve posted. Things are settling down now, though. I think I’m back!)
Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet star as the notorious New Zealanders Pauline Parker and Juliette Hulme who killed Pauline’s mother when she threatened to keep the two best friends apart.
I love my BFF Heather, but if my BFF Heather ever decided that we needed to kill her mom in order to continue our semi-lesbian relationship, I would turn down my BFF Heather. Not Juliette and Pauline…they followed through in actuality and in the film with brutality even more horrifying for a couple of 15-year-olds.
The film chooses not to dwell on the murder, however. Though it is certainly the center of the piece (opening and closing with shots of the two girls covered in blood), the murder takes a back seat to the otherwise close-to-normal friendship. The two girls live in a fantasy world that Jackson seamlessly combines with the actual world, perhaps in a percursor to a more popular film such as Finding Neverland.
By spending so much time with these otherwise fairly normal teenagers, their downfall into an even deeper – and much darker – fantasy world becomes much more affecting, causing shock and disgust when there is very little violence actually shown. Compared to a film like Dirty Harry, which has crowds cheering and met with little resitance, Heavenly Creatures has a nasty reputation. I think this has more to do with the surrounding material than with how the murders are actually shot.
And here’s something crazy: Juliette Hulme moved to Scottland, changed her name to Anne Perry, and is now a Mormon mystery writer. Proving once again that the mormon church will take just about anybody.