Heaven (1999) - Rotten Tomatoes

Heaven (1999)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Heaven Photos

Movie Info

Scott Reynolds directed this New Zealand thriller about a transsexual stripper. Architect Robert Marling (Martin Donovan) has mounting problems that include drinking, gambling, and alimony payments to his ex, Jennifer (Joanna Going), who's attempting to gain custody of their son. Redesigning a strip club for his psycho friend Stanner (Richard Schiff), Marling meets transsexual dancer Heaven (Danny Edwards), who has precognitive visions. Heaven's therapist, Dr. Melrose (Patrick Malahide), employs his patient's predictions to boost his own bank account. With all professional ethics evaporating, the evil Melrose sleeps with Jennifer while counseling Marling. Hallucinatory visions prompt Heaven to warn Marling of even more hellish events awaiting in his future. Shown at the 1998 Montreal World Film Festival and the 1998 Toronto Film Festival.
R (for vicious, bloody violence including rape, pervasive strong language, and sexuality/nudity)
Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Martin Donovan
as Robert Marling
Danny Edwards
as Heaven
Richard Schiff
as Stanner
Joanna Going
as Jennifer Marling
Karl Urban
as Sweeper
Michael Langley
as Sean Marling
Jeffrey Scott Grice
as Sebastian Marling
Barry Spring
as Wibber
Jon Brazier
as Billy
Jean Hyland
as Mrs. Daniels
Kirsty Brown
as Nightclub Dancer
Samantha Keen
as Nightclub Dancer
Darren Taylor
as Nightclub Dancer
Vanessa Green
as Nightclub Dancer
Asa Lindh
as Nightclub Dancer
James Cross
as Barman
Andrew Losefa
as Bouncer
Joy Watson
as Woman Diner
Johnny Bond
as Man Diner
Kate Walsh
as Diner
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Heaven

All Critics (5)

All there is to the film is the hook; take it away, and what's left is a rather uninvolving tale.

Full Review… | October 21, 2007

...one of the more interesting and visually striking movies to come around in a while.

Full Review… | November 12, 2002
Reel Film Reviews

Audience Reviews for Heaven

Gritty fairy tale or unpleasant, trashy potboiler? *** This review may contain spoilers *** Not only was 'Heaven' a straight-to-DVD affair but it was also a joint production between Miramax and producers in New Zealand. Hence, half the actors in the film are American and the other half are from New Zealand. The locale of the film is never identified and it's very odd to hear the husband and wife protagonists speak in an American accent while their young son speaks in a New Zealand accent. 'Heaven' is a strange movie. It's about this down-on-his-luck architect, Robert Marling going through a bitter divorce who fears losing custody of his young son vis-à-vis his estranged wife, Jennifer, who he is now separated from. Robert takes a job working for a sleazy strip club owner by the name of Stanner. 'Heaven' appears to be a pre-op transsexual who works for Stanner at the club. Despite the fact that Stanner often brutalizes Heaven, Robert turns a blind eye to Stanner's vile and demeaning behavior. We're asked to believe that Robert (who has a strong moral code as evidenced by his later acts of heroism in saving Heaven from being raped by two local punks as well as attempting to save his son after the boy is kidnapped) would simply tolerate Stanner's repulsive treatment of Heaven because he needs the work and also must support a gambling habit. So at times his failure to stick up for Heaven coupled with being overly chummy with the despicable Stanner, undermines his portrait as a sympathetic protagonist. Heaven's trans-sexuality not only makes her the victim of Stanner's controlling personality but she's also victimized by the film's two other (lesser antagonists)?Jennifer's psychiatrist boyfriend, Melrose, and two nasty bar patrons who Stanner likes for some reason. Heaven is psychic and predicts the two central (and at times, overlapping) events of the film: Robert's mugging and his later intervention, saving Heaven from being raped. We never learn why Heaven has these special powers and it's rather convenient in terms of moving the plot forward when you have a character who can do such extraordinary things. The film's scenarist doesn't help things with a storyline that features events occurring in a non-linear fashion (there are flashbacks and flash forwards and cross-cutting of dialogue that adds to the general confusion). A good part of the story involves Jennifer's ill-fated romance with her sleazy psychiatrist, Melrose, and subsequent attempt to gain custody of her and Robert's child. Heaven ends up surreptitiously taping Melrose who sexually assaults her (she's also a patient of the shrink) and hands the tapes to Robert who plays one of them at the custody hearing, exposing Melrose as a liar and a criminal. The plot becomes even more frantic when Stanner decides to torch his own club for insurance purposes only to be shot by the two buddies he hires. Finally, Robert saves Heaven from the two punks and he in turn is saved by "The Sweeper", the bouncer who Stanner had fired earlier after getting into a confrontation with the two murderous punks. One of central implausible moments in 'Heaven' is when Stanner fires The Sweeper. At the beginning of the film, he praises him as the best bouncer who's ever worked for him. But after The Sweeper confronts the two punky bad guys, Stanner takes their side and fires him. Why would a strip club owner who presumably needs to keep his business going by keeping order, fire a competent bouncer and stick up for a bunch of low-life's who could easily make trouble for him? Unless of course he knew all along that he was going to hire the punks to set the club on fire?but that's never made clear at the film's outset. The main problem with Heaven is with the character of Stanner who is so vile that one cannot believe in him at all. The trick in creating believable antagonists is to give them both sympathetic and unsympathetic attributes. Stanner's 'charming' moments are few and far between. Melrose is a much more sinister and believable bad guy. Heaven (as well as 'The Sweeper') are drawn to the other extreme. They are wholly 'too good', too sympathetic and serve no other function than wearing the mantle of undeserved victim-hood. Robert and Jennifer's tussles are pretty standard stuff, although I think it was a nice touch that Robert doesn't run back to his wife and stay with her in the end. 'Heaven' aspires to be a gritty fairy tale and moves along at a fairly brisk pace. While not always plausible, the film's strength is in its plot. Despite the multitude of unfolding, quirky events, one doesn't care for or believe in these characters. I've alluded to the problems earlier: Stanner's lack of virtually any redeeming qualities; the unexplained quality of Heaven's visions and her one-dimensional portrait as pure victim and Robert and Jennifer's rather pedestrian custody battle. 'Heaven' explores evil only on the surface. It's an unpleasant, trashy potboiler worth watching, but certainly not more than once.

Lewis Papier
Lewis Papier

When you take justice into your own hands, you have to live with the consequences!

Wahida K
Wahida K

Super Reviewer

A tranny stripper who can see the future tries to help out a down on his luck gambler after he "saves" her from being raped. I won't go further into to the plot; suffice it to say it's rather complicated and told in a nonlinear manner as was the post Pulp Fiction fashion. Most of these sorts of films tend to suck, but this one's a gem in the rough. Martin Donovan is great and proves once again that he really should get more work as a lead. Danny Edwards makes Heaven a convincing and sympathetic character. And Richard Schiff makes for a great likable bad guy as well. The plot is good, though the whole non-linear thing probably makes it more engaging than it actually is. Still, it's a fun little film and I can't deny that I enjoyed it.

Aaron Wittwer
Aaron Wittwer

Heaven Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Heaven on our Movie forum!

News & Features