At the age of 33, before the Hollywood calling, Peter Jackson has already presented the world a fundamentally riveting piece of work in his homeland New Zealand, HEAVENLY CREATURES, an intricate retelling of a horrendous matricide case based on a real story in 1950s, and the felons are two adolescent girls.
It is a "too friendly" relationship between two schoolgirls albeit their very different background, Paulie (Lynskey) is from a lower class, always sulky and socially outcast, while Juliet (Winslet) is from a British middle class (her father is a college professor and mother is a marriage counsellor) with a free-spirited soul, but they share the same pursuit and chimera, the idolatry of Mario Lanza and the aversion of Orson Welles, revel in their fantasies of the Fourth World with plasticine-made characters inhabit in the storybook Borovnia, they become inseparable and any force to tear them apart will stir up trouble which turns out to be lethal and kamikaze.
Frenetically shot in the opening sequences, the bloodstained faces of Paulie and Juliet predestine the shocking value of the sordid ending, but runs in parallel is their blithe chasing and cavorting in their most joyful days, they develop a borderline sapphic relationship, but the story doesn't necessarily hinge on their " unwholesome" sexuality, in fact, it is way more complicated than sex appeal, the intimate connection between those two girls is a godsend, a telepathic ability which only can be communicated between them, thus anyone else is shut out from their world, and eventually Paulie's mother (Peirse) will fall prey to their delusive freedom.
The film is both Lynskey and Winslet's big screen debut, the former recently got a BREAKTHROUGH AWARD nomination in Gotham Awards for HELLO I MUST BE GOING 2012, which is such a laughingstock since her debut work here is a tremendous force of nature and one of the most challenging role for her age, rebelling with a cause, Lynskey competently demonstrates both the evil and the compassionate sides of Paulie. Kinslet is also great, Juliet's superior tone aside, she is a spoiled flower trapped in a dysfunctional family, only when they are together, they can evade the rotten and tedious reality and enjoy the true happiness. The supporting cast is well-selected, most of them are caricatured (i.e. Merrison's pedantic father of Juliet), but Peirse casts a varnish of self-involvement to her otherwise pedestrian role of a nagging-mother-turned-innocent-victim.
But it is Peter Jackson, whose expansive imagination works wonders here, one can feasibly detect his predilection to fictitious creations and gory violence, with the aid of DP Alun Bollinger, HEAVENLY CREATURES presents itself as a high-end paradigm of blending drama with surreal constituent, a bona-fide cinematic gem should not be overlooked.