Heavenly Creatures

Critics Consensus

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.

92%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 50

83%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 40,066
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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 Winslet), a pretty girl whose wealthy parents have relocated from England. Pauline and Juliet find they share the same tastes in art, literature, and music (especially the vocal stylings of Mario Lanza), and together they begin to construct an elaborate fantasy world named Borovnia, which exists first in stories and then in models made of clay. The more Pauline and Juliet dream of Borovnia, the more the two find themselves retreating into this fantastical world of art, adventure, and Gothic romance as they slowly drift away from reality. The girls' parents decide that perhaps they're spending too much time together, and try to bring them back into the real world, but this only feeds their continued obsession with Borovnia (and each other) and leads to a desperate and violent bid for freedom. Featuring excellent performances (especially by Kate Winslet) and imaginative production design and special effects, Heavenly Creatures skillfully allows the audience to see Pauline and Juliet both from their own fantastic perspective and how they seem to the rest of the world. Remarkably enough, Heavenly Creatures is based on a true story; in real life, Juliet grew up to become mystery novelist Anne Perry. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Cast

Melanie Lynskey
as Pauline Parker
Kate Winslet
as Juliet Hulme
Sarah Peirse
as Honora Parker
Diana Kent
as Hilda Hulme
Clive Merrison
as Henry Hulme
Simon O'Connor
as Herbert Rieper
Peter Elliott
as Bill Perry
Jed Brophy
as John/Nicholas
Peter Elliot
as Bill Perry
Gilbert Goldie
as Dr. Bennett
Geoffrey Heath
as Reverend Norris
Jean Marie Guerin
as Orson Welles
Stephen Reilly
as Mario Lanza
Peter Jackson
as Bum outside theater
Darien Takle
as Miss Stewart
Elizabeth Moody
as Miss Waller
Liz Mullane
as Mrs. Collins
Moreen Eason
as Mrs. Stevens
Pearl Carpenter
as Mrs. Zwartz
Lou Dobson
as Grandma Parker
Nick Farra
as Boarder
Ray Henwood
as Professor
John Nicoll
as Professor
Mike Maxwell
as Professor
Toni Jones
as Agnes Ritchie
Wendy Watson
as Mrs. Bennett
Ben Fransham
as Charles
Jessica Bradley
as Pauline (age 5)
Alex Shirtcliffe-Scott
as Juliet (age 5)
Barry Thomson
as Farmer/Policeman
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Critic Reviews for Heavenly Creatures

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (46) | Rotten (4)

Audience Reviews for Heavenly Creatures

  • Apr 18, 2013
    My fundamental problem with Heavenly Creatures is the pure nuisance the existence of the main characters creates. I tried not to let this effect my rating but it was overwhelming. The fact that this is true, and is apparently written in Pauline's own words made me strain even more. I understand that they're supposed to feel crazy, but I was just waiting for Juliet to die from illness and then for Pauline to hang herself. The two were annoying and I had difficulties watching their two moronic lives take account. One thing that seems to be hailed above all in this film is the performances. It stars Lynskey (later Rose in Two and a Half Men) and Winslet. I felt that they exaggerated facial expressions at times, and didn't always feel professionalized. The acting wasn't bad, but I don't think it's above average. The film did well in creating tension, making it rarely dry. Even though one can argue the climax begins towards the last thirty minutes, I found it all equally engaging. The opening was creative, and automatically set this eerie tone. With Peter Jackson (LoTR) focusing purely on the two girls, and occasionally the family, this film brought out a feeling of isolation, without setting it in a deserted area. The film has its talents, but left a bitter taste on my mouth. My rating is biased, but it is mine after all.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Nov 26, 2012
    One of the most disturbing movies I have ever seen. I wouldn't say it was "good" and I didn't particularly enjoy it. I felt both Winslet and Lynskey overacted their parts, which was annoying at times.
    Erin C Super Reviewer
  • Nov 12, 2012
    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.
    paul s Super Reviewer
  • Aug 03, 2012
    Peter Jackson strays from his typical slapstick/horror genre and attempts something more dramatic. It's a good effort, but the entire film is too weird for my taste. The story is true though, which does make everything a bit more interesting. There's also some great acting.
    Eric S Super Reviewer

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