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Heavenly Creatures

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

tomatometer

94

Average Rating: 8.2/10
Reviews Counted: 48
Fresh: 45 | Rotten: 3

Dark, stylish, and captivating, Heavenly Creatures signals both the auspicious debut of Kate Winslet and the arrival of Peter Jackson as more than just a cult director.

100

Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 12 | Rotten: 0

Dark, stylish, and captivating, Heavenly Creatures signals both the auspicious debut of Kate Winslet and the arrival of Peter Jackson as more than just a cult director.

audience

83

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 38,955

My Rating

Movie Info

After winning a cult following for several offbeat and darkly witty gore films, New Zealand director Peter Jackson abruptly shifted gears with this stylish, compelling, and ultimately disturbing tale of two teenage girls whose friendship begins to fuel an ultimately fatal obsession. Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) is a student in New Zealand who doesn't much care for her family or her classmates; she's a bit overweight and not especially gracious, but she quickly makes friends with Juliet (Kate

R,

Drama, Romance, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh

Sep 24, 2002

Miramax Films

Watch It Now

Cast

Latest News on Heavenly Creatures

December 13, 2005:
Critical Consensus: Crown This "Kong"
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All Critics (48) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (3) | DVD (17)

Lynskey and Winslet are extraordinary actresses.

September 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Combines original vision, a drop-dead command of the medium and a successful marriage between a dazzling, kinetic techno-show and a complex, credible portrait of the out-of-control relationship between the crime's two schoolgirl perpetrators.

February 11, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Unlike the campy excess of Jackson's earlier Dead Alive, deliberate overkill ltimately points toward a dearth of ideas rather than a surfeit.

February 11, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Acted with conviction, and directed and written with febrile vibrancy.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Stylish and eerily compelling before it overplays its campy excesses, Heavenly Creatures does have a feverish intensity to recommend it.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

1994 spellbinder.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It remains, two decades on, a vertiginous, surreal psycho-portrait of adolescent girlhood's dramas and despairs--Little Town on the Prairie gone Badlands.

July 2, 2014 Full Review Source: Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

Gruesome yet imaginative teen psychosexual drama.

May 31, 2012 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

The first Peter Jackson film to show his interests go beyond simply splatter and gore. Magical.

May 1, 2012 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

The inner tension of the film emerges from Jackson's enjoyment of the girls' bustling insanity and then his gradual withdrawal from it.

March 11, 2008 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

This incredible film may be director Peter Jackson's masterpiece.

February 7, 2007 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid | Comments (2)
Combustible Celluloid

A dark, astounding film from Peter Jackson, showing his mastery of blending fact and fantasy. A deserved winner of Venice Festival's Silver Lion and Toronto Fest's Critics Award. Along with Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, this is 1994's most audacious film.

December 4, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Fantasy and reality blur in a chilling film that shows Jackson's limitless potential

September 6, 2006
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

The movie that first got Jackson & Winslet noticed

March 29, 2006
Atlantic City Weekly

Peter Jackson creates a rich, haunting atmosphere, deftly juggling the eerily giddy fantasy world of the girls and their harsh, violent reality.

January 11, 2004 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

A disturbing, boldly conceived story.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

An odd, but mostly effective mix of melodrama, fantasy and voice-over.

May 20, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

Beautifully, horribly passionate.

January 27, 2003
San Francisco Examiner

One of the most genuinely disturbing films I have ever seen.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Despite the undeniable merits of Jackson's other works, Heavenly Creatures strikes me as the best film he has made.

November 6, 2002 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Powerful

September 27, 2002 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Audience Reviews for Heavenly Creatures

Peter Jackson made a hell of a leap from Gory alien movie, to 'Muppet's gone bad' comedy to one of the best Zombie films of all time to serious drama. Heavenly Creatures isn't without it's horror or humour but it did show a different side to the already very capable director. Heavenly Creatures works for various different reasons, in that sense Jackson couldn't go wrong. Orchestrating it however took talent. The look of 1950s New Zealand was perfect, that only added to the authenticity of the real life events with locations and journal voice-overs directly from real diary entries. The script, again full of real life diary entries was alluring and intense, curious and funny, without it the film would never have been able to flow as it did. The films greatest asset though was the performances and relationship between the two lead girls played by Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet. Jackson's film may not have been a financial hit but to rate a film in that way would be a mistake as this is quite an overlooked piece of masterwork.
February 17, 2014
SirPant

Super Reviewer

This disturbing take on a set of real events comes to life from director Peter Jackson, at the time the master of horror-comedy. Set and filmed in New Zealand and starring newcomers Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey, the film propelled the former into stardom and started a fast track for the other to become a character actress. The story is one of a deep connection, a flawed outlook on life, a friendship that shifts with their sick lives, and the murderous intent of two girls who have drove themselves into the depths of madness. Based on the true story of the Parker-Hulme murder of two teenage girls killing one of their mothers so they could stay together in a fantastical imagination land that the two of them built, it exacts a macabre and cruel vengeance over the viewer. Fusing Claymation, horror, and the inner follies of the two girls over their partnership and eventual murder plans, Jackson uses voice over narration from Parker's own diary to infuse bitter resentment throughout the film. Winslet is a bright star in her own right, her true debut and the propellant to her eventual fame. Here she is carefree, enigmatic, and obviously disturbed as a power hungry vigilante in her dreams. Lynskey is dark and the epitome of brooding, as she time and again is taken away from the object of her desire: Hulme. She fights with her mother, and obviously is getting ready to do the mischievous deed. This differs from many biopics because it's far more centered on the buildup to infamy than the aftermath. Their relationship is so steeped in exclusivity and demonic insight into their madness and the co-dependence that led to their irresponsible and juvenile decision to flee the country for famedom and be together forever. It's a beautiful and inviting film, even if you want to rescind it immediately.
December 5, 2012
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

From the first scenes, showing 2 young teen girls running through a forest as the camera alternates between a 3rd person view of the girls to following them crashing through the brush, and then juxtaposing the action with a black and white visage of the same girls running along the deck of a ship, Peter Jackson gives notice that this is his picture and he is in full command of what you will bear witness to and how he chooses to present it.

Based on a true story of two teens, the story (in a script co-penned by Jackson) uses actual passages of one of the girl's diary, making the events surreal and real at the same time.

Jackson lets you enter into the lives and thoughts of these two bright, but seemingly broken girls, full of romantic adolescence while still looking at real life straight on. The camera gives perspective, with surprises of extreme close ups mixed with a million camera angles - letting you know that there is art behind the telling of this only slightly interesting story that occasionally straddles the line of melodrama. In fact, I felt that it was Jackson's art lifted the film from the mid morass of teen films into something much more profound; offering flights of fancy, both in film technique and in the fantasy world that the two girls create.

Jackson smartly used film techniques true to the period in which the action takes place, giving us an oft times off putting glimpse into the mores of 1950's New Zealand (which so much echo the sentiments of England and the US of the day). In using scenes from Orson Welles' The Third Man, he cements the relationship between his own film and those films and techniques of the period, while using the girl's fascination with Mario Lanza (the great tenor of that period), to equally good use.

Of course, for the film buffs, this film also has the added attraction of being the film that introduces the world to the acting chops of Kate Winslett, who, as one of the 14 year old girls, gives a gifted performance, even while playing second fiddle to the always brooding Melanie Lynskey.

The film fails to achieve true greatness as it meanders and loses focus a bit in the last third of the film, but then, with the conclusion and a review of the opening scenes, you see how it all ties together and that Jackson had a wonderful vision for the film going in, making this so much more than a story of a murder, but a fine character study that aptly delves into the psyche of adolescent young women.
November 12, 2012
maxthesax
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

After making a few crazy and awesome splatstick horror comedies, Peter Jackson went into dramatic territory with this movie based on the true story of one of the most infamous crimes in New Zealand history.

Set in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1953 and 1954, this is the story of Paulina Parker and Juliet Hulme, two offbeat teen schoolgirls who don't really fit in with anyone but each other. Their friendship starts off innocently enough, but their connection soon becomes a little too intense, and their attachment to one another, and the shared fantasy world that they create for themselves begins to take hold, sometimes overriding reality, and this becomes a cause for concern that soon leads to shocking and tragic ends.

This is a prestige picture, and, while it mostly is based in reality, there are bits of fantasy, yet they are blended into everything else in such a way that they don't stick out, and really feel pretty natural in the overall scheme of things, much like how things are in The King of Comedy. This is a wonderfully gripping, haunting, and sometimes rather creepy coming-of-age thriller story.

I don't feel like it is a full on masterpiece as some do, but I do think it is very well played, extremely compelling and attention holding. The direction is really sharp, and there's some great visual effects that are very well played. The script is pretty solid, though not quite razor level. The true highlight would definitely be the acting, where we get the film debuts of both Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey, both of whom absolutely knock it out of the park and deliver some brilliant work. They are both intense, smoldering, and display an amazing flair for the craft, which is really more amazing since this is their feature debuts. When the shat hits the fan, and things get real, they get quite chilling, and the results are thoroughly unforgettable.

The wide angle lens closeups of faces does get somewhat overbearing and maybe isn't the most necessary thing in the world, but thankfully its not distracting enough to warrant docking it too many points. Overall this is a quite strong film, and I would love it if Jackson went back and made a few more films in this ilk.

Definitely give this one a look. It's some spectacular stuff.
September 2, 2012
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

    1. Pauline Parker: We have realized why Deborah and I have such extraordinary telepathy and why people treat us and look at us the way they do. It is because we are mad! We are both stark raving mad!
    – Submitted by Frances H (20 months ago)
    1. Henry Hulme: It's the intensity of the friendship that concerns me. I think that we should avert trouble.
    – Submitted by Frances H (20 months ago)
    1. Pauline Parker: The genius of these two is understood by so few, the are so rare.
    – Submitted by Frances H (20 months ago)
    1. Honora Parker: We decided how sad it is for other people that they can't appreciate our genius.
    – Submitted by Frances H (20 months ago)
    1. Juliet Hulme: All the best people have bad chests and bone diseases. It's frightfully romantic.
    – Submitted by Frances H (20 months ago)
    1. Juliet Hulme: Only the best people fight against all obstacles in pursuit of happiness.
    – Submitted by Rae G (2 years ago)
View all quotes (6)

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