Heaven & Earth - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Heaven & Earth Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 26, 2012
Oliver Stone's Heaven & Earth completes his "Vietnam Trilogy" by examining the conflict through a Vietnamese woman, a woman who later marries a US solider and moves away. It's not as compelling on an emotional level as his other two (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July), as it seems to tackle too many themes, and doesn't have a completely focused message. The initial set-up is especially by-the-numbers and familiar, until Tommy Lee Jones's character is introduced, from that point the story takes on a much more interesting direction, with some excellent exchanges by the two actors. Hiep Thi Le's performance is also noteworthy, with a very expressive face that conveys a great deal of emotion. Uneven, but ultimately solid.

3.5/5 Stars
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
April 13, 2010
Pretty flat and weak. I think Stone was afraid to take risks with this picture since he is dealing with a touchy subject particularly Vietnam. The performances is mediocre and easily forgettable. Hiep Te Li tried her best as Ly Li Hayslip but fails. If anything good is to come of this it would have to be the cinematography handled expertly by Robert Richardson.
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2011
A much different perspective on the Vietnam War than I'm used to seeing. I appreciated it, but don't know if I would watch the movie again.
Super Reviewer
½ December 10, 2007
A great film!
½ April 8, 2015
August 7, 2013
One of Tommy Lee Jones best performances. The story is excellent even though it has the usual Oliver Stone anti-American slant to it. It is refreshing to see part of the war from the Vietnamese point of view. Well worth watching.
½ July 19, 2013
With HEAVEN AND EARTH, Oliver Stone completed his trilogy of Vietnam war films, which included PLATOON and BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY. Not having seen either of those two films, I cannot make any comparison, but HEAVEN AND EARTH is, for the most part, a very moving and harrowingly powerful production. It's based on the real-life story of Le Ly Hayslip, an unfortunate Vietnamese woman who spends a tragic childhood in her wartorn country and, unexpectedly, becomes successful in America. The first half of the movie features some of the most horrifying war images ever put to film (especially a long, arduous torture scene involving honey, ants, and snakes), making it difficult to bear, yet at the same time it's the strongest part of the film. The second half loses a lot of the narrative's momentum, however, as it focuses on Le Ly and her doomed marriage to her emotionally unstable husband, tortured war veteran Steve Butler (Tommy Lee Jones). That said, there is one very passionate scene in which Steve confesses the vile deeds he was forced to commit during his time in Vietnam which had me riveted. The pain and grief Jones puts into his performance is nothing short of mesmerizing. Aside from that, the film is gorgeously photographed, and Kitaro's musical score does a phenomenal job of illustrating a tragic pastoral of Vietnam. Despite its faults, HEAVEN AND EARTH is still worth a look, but be warned, it's not a pleasant movie to sit through by any means.
August 11, 2012
Its well made with great cinematography and a powerful score but the plot is a little thick and jumbled together.
½ September 16, 2011
One of the saddest true stories ever. The terrible events that a vietnam girl has to go through makes a one time movie to see because of devastating the things she had to go through were. A great story though of how two people from different countries can be a hard relationship by what they have gone through.
July 3, 2011
Some good scenes and performances, but doesn't stick out as much as the other two parts to Oliver Stone's Vietnam trilogy. Le Ly is an interesting character, but she's a bit too unbelievably pious. Tommy Lee Jones shows up out of nowhere and departs just as quickly. Reminded me most of Stone's other straight biopic "Alexander", except done much better. The panoramas here are beautiful, but few and far between (as one might expect, given the Vietnam War setting for most of the movie.)
September 18, 2010
The acting wasn't that great, but the story was touching, and very dark. It has a couple of graphic moments, but the movie is actually good and deserves at least a rental.
July 26, 2010
The third in Mr. Oliver Stone's Vietnam trilogy. I still think Platoon is his best Nam film. Next, it would be a toss up between this and Born on the Fourth of July. July is too depressing and just plain old pessimistic to be that enjoyable even though it's an amazing movie and this film is somewhat similar in tone. Heaven and Earth has its share of unhappy scenes that are unpleasant to watch (family disputes, rape), but in its own way, it's a celebration of an astounding life.

I don't think I've seen a movie that has come off feeling like a book more so than Heaven and Earth and I mean that as a compliment. The film is based off of two memoirs by Le Ly Hayslip. The film reminded me of two other memoirs set in foreign lands: So Far From the Bamboo Grove and When I Was Puerto Rican, two great books. Those books and this film follow young heroines that battle hardship and adversity.

One thing I didn't like about this movie, and it was the fault of the marketing and not the actual film is the fact that Tommy Lee Jones was top billed. Jones didn't appear in the movie until about an hour and a half into the film and he had a grand total of like 30 minutes on screen. Granted his character was important, but Joan "not Julie" Chen was the real star in this film.

She played the aforementioned Le Ly Hayslip, a girl that grew up in war-torn Vietnam. She was tortured and interrogated by both the Vietnamese government and the Viet Cong as both groups wrongly suspected her of being a spy. She was separated from her family, electrocuted, had bugs and snakes going after when she was defenseless (squeamish scene), and was raped. Life in the country/war heavy side of Vietnam was too brutal for her, so she escaped to the city side of Vietnam where she depended on selling goods to make money and survive. She was not too successful and ended up unwillingly getting pulled into the seedy prostitution world that outbursted when American soldiers needed sex. She did meet the Tommy Lee Jones and that moved her life in a new direction.

This definitely feels and looks like an Oliver stone movie with Vietnam as the setting and Stone's patented quick cuts and black and white effects in dream sequences. The movie is effective in it portrayal of how brutal Vietnam was before the war broke out and what the war meant to bystanders. It was an informative movie with lots of knowledge. It's also more of an emotional film than Stone's other works of cinematic brilliance. It's also a first for Oliver Stone in that the main character was female, almost like what Tarantino did with Jackie Brown.

The movie is a lot more gentler and personal than Stone's other work. The weakest part of the film was the narrative, which was difficult since the film was based on two sets of memoirs so it's difficult to choose what goes in the film and what gets left on the cutting room floor. Some events just went too fast or went unnoticed and the last 40 minutes felt out of place, but hey, the film makers had to put most of a woman's life on the screen in 2 hours and change, not an easy task.

The film lost my interest at times, but largely, it's an impressive film that works as a powerful form of edutainment. Oliver Stone made a noble film about the side of the Vietnam saga that not many people know about.
January 3, 2010
If i where to have my life story Made into a movie I would use this director He painted the clearest picture of this womans life .. I Felt like I had walked beside her In This and felt her shame and sorrows.. Even though My life don't come close to this I felt as if I Related to her hardships Beautifull Work This is art In Its Purest Form !!
September 12, 2009
It?s a great movie and I didn?t know that it?s actually part of the trilogy by Oliver Stone. It started Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July. This one is supposed to be the ?feminine? side of those and the hero itself is a female.
The movie based on memoir by Le Ly Hayslip growing up in Vietnam, then moved to US with her American husband (played by Tommy Lee Jones).
This movie itself using English language. Meaning the Vietnamese here talking English. It never a problem to me. I mean I can accept that people in Middle-Earth also talking English. One thing that bothered me is they (the Vietnamese) seemed to talk English very well on each other, but when they talk to American suddenly their English are very bad. What?s up with that?
½ April 25, 2009
As a sweeping panorama of the Vietnam War this is a beautiful, unique, and engaging experience. However, the weaker scenes bring it down. Kudos to Oliver Stone for trying something different and mostly succeeding.
½ October 26, 2008
I read ''When Heaven and Earth Changed Places'' but when I saw this film I couldn't stop crying! So brutal but very inspiring to see Le Ly survive one disaster after another.
November 4, 2007
Very Powerful movie... Its Stone's 3rd part of his Vietnam War Trilogy... It gives the amazing perspective of the Vietnam war from the point of view of a Vietnamese woman... Very disturbing and very sad at times...
November 1, 2007
Mr. Stone tells this tale vigorously, but he has the wrong cinematic vocabulary for his heroine's essentially passive experience.
October 31, 2007
A stunning masterpiece from Oliver Stone. He shows the audience the Vietnam war thru a vietnamese girl/woman/mother. It shows how strength of character and determination will carry you through the best of times & the worst of times.
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