21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly different and challenging
When I rented this film I had no idea what I was getting. The back cover seems to imply a thriller in the standard hollywood mode for blockbuster sellers. I can not be more emphatic in my expression of delight that it was not the easy ride I had hoped for and expected. This film will challenge you from the first moment. I watched it twice straight through and then...
Published on 3 Jan 2004
5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Far from Heaven
An Englishwoman living and teaching in Italy attempts to assassinate (by bomb) the man she thinks is the drug-dealer responsible for the deaths of her husband and pupil. The bomb misses its target and instead kills four innocents (including two children) and she is arrested.
There's the plot - sounds quite good doesn't it? Well it's not - it's tripe...
Published on 3 April 2010 by A. Willard
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly different and challenging,
By A Customer
When I rented this film I had no idea what I was getting. The back cover seems to imply a thriller in the standard hollywood mode for blockbuster sellers. I can not be more emphatic in my expression of delight that it was not the easy ride I had hoped for and expected. This film will challenge you from the first moment. I watched it twice straight through and then watched all the extras provided on the DVD - some of the best and most worth while use of additional material. In particular the directors commentary. Please watch this one.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Cate is excellent (again!),
WOW! What a fantastic film.
I watched this film with no knowledge of it at all, the selling point was the talent of Cate Blanchett, and once again she has proved herself. It seems that no matter what film or subject she acts, she takes the roll to it's max and shines, she has done comedy (Bandits) brilliantly, drama (The Gift) and my all time favouite film Elizabeth where she is just perfect.
But there is also the talent of Giovanni Ribisi (Saving Private Ryan, X files, Friends and The Gift with Cate), this guy can also shine in his acting ability.
The movie itself starts mainly in Italian and progresses into more english (subtitiles for the Italian spoken parts) but please don't let that put you off as it adds to the beauty of the film.
Set in Italy the film has some beautiful locations and some fantastic cinematography, especially a scene with the two stars and a sunset near the end.
The film seems complex then yet simple and is moving at times in a strange way consider the acts of Cate's character.
To top it all, the film is giving a beautiful musical score.
Well worth getting.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How high can you fly?,
What is true love? What would we do to keep it, once we find it? Is this what it is like to find a true soulmate? What is wrong and right if we seek redemption, but are dragged down by a lust for justice? The quietly beautiful "Heaven" will leave those thoughts in your head as you watch it.
In Italy, young schoolteacher Phillipa Paccard (Cate Blanchett) sneaks into drug kingpin Vendice's office and plants a bomb in his trash, little knowing that the trash is about to be collected by the cleaning lady. The resulting explosion kills the lady, a father and his two children. When Phillipa is arrested and told this, she is aghast. She only intended to kill the kingpin, because his distribution of drugs has been killing her pupils, and killed her husband. She has asked the cabinieri to help, but no one has answered. So she took justice into her own hands.
A young Italian cabinieri, Filippo (Giovanni Ribisi), serves as a translator for Phillipa, and he is struck by her self-recrimination and sorrow. When her evidence is destroyed by a spy in the police, Philipo creates an elaborate escape plan, then helps her kill Vendice. From there, they escape into Tuscany, where their bond grows deeper. The soul mates live in what seems like a paradise, shaving their heads and wearing identical clothes. But Tuscany is not heaven, and they are still not safe.
Tom Tykwer gave the film its focus (lovers in jeopardy) and unearthly direction, but Krzysztof Kieslowski provided the heart and soul of it. In that sense, it is wholly his movie. Themes of guilt and redemption, love and salvation, punishment and forgiveness run deep in "Heaven." Symbolism clings to it like ivy (the white shirts, the bright lights), and there are definite religious tones to it -- Phillipa's confession to Filipo in a church, the wistful watching of a wedding, and the ascension into the skies -- not the triumph of law, but the triumph of love and forgiveness.
The handling of Phillipa and Filippo is exquisite, such as the scenes where they shave their heads and wear identical clothes, run and walk in unison. He was born on the day of her first communion, and their names are male and female versions of each other's, yin and yang. Not exactly subtle, but convincing. The direction is otherworldly, even in scenes like Phillipa shooting Vendice. In the latter half of the film, this dreaminess pervades everything -- the trees, sky, ruined stone churches and the tiny running figures.
The main problems, it seems, would be the ocasional clash between Tykwer and the late Kieslowski's style. Some parts are more Tykwer, some are more Kieslowski, so it seems sometimes that the focus is less on the storyline and more on the lovers (which is more Tykwer). Additionally, when the lovers arrive in Tuscany the tone changes to a less hard-edged, more romantic one. Some viewers may find this disconcerting, but I found it a natural progression as the two grew closer and sought some kind of haven, even if Phillipa doesn't want to go unpunished.
Cate Blanchett is in amazing form here, expressing grief, love, pride, and anger with only a slight change of expression. Giovanni Ribisi is almost as good; he's a little stiff in the beginning, but loosens up and becomes fully believable as a very young man who is very deeply in love. Remo Girone appears in only a few scenes as Filipo's dad, but is heartbreakingly good.
With the best of Tykwer and Kieslowski carefully woven together, "Heaven" is a quietly passionate, deeply romantic movie. An amazing, heartbreaking movie, and not one to be missed.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deeply beautiful and tragic film,
The screenplay for this film was written by the celebrated Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski and his writing partner Kryzysztof Piesiewicz and is rumoured to have been intended as the first part of a new trilogy of films (Heaven, Purgatory and Hell). When Kieslowski died, the script for Heaven was finished, but he had not had the chance to direct it, so Tykwer was chosen to follow the project through to completion. The film is a powerful combination of thriller and love story, with wonderful performances from the two leads, Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi. The direction and cinematography are superb - this is an outstandingly beautiful film. Tykwer has provided a fitting epilogue to the career of one of Europe's greatest filmmakers.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Penned by Kieslowski,
Intended by Krzysztof Kieslowski to be the first part of a trilogy (the second being 'Hell' - filmed by Danis Tanovi' in 2005, the third the unmade 'Purgatory'), he died before being able to commit it to film.
What looks like a standard thriller from the box and the blurb turns out to be anything but. The plot revolves around Phillipa (Cate Blanchett) who has attempted to kill a drugs baron but ended up killing four innocent people.
She is questioned by police and helped to escape from their custody by her translator Filippo (Giovanni Ribisi). What follows is far from a standard chase, although there is an element of this involved.
As one would expect from Kieslowski there is a large slice of pondering upon the intangible elements of life, and the intangible element here under his microscope is love.
Phillipa and Filippo make off into the Italian countryside, slowly morphing from two people into one, both physically and mentally, and eventually escape from the police in a climax that is far from expected (I won't give details for fear of ruining any of the film).
The film becomes more and more surreal as it goes on, but it somehow remains within the realms of the plausible, and again, this is a Kieslowskian trait. It was seen in his Three Colours Trilogy, where the viewer is asked to let the boundaries of their beliefs be stretched, but never too far as to make the film ridiculous.
This is a fine film that Tom Tykwer has made a good job of, but one will always wonder what extra elements of brilliance Kieslowski would have put into it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film, great performances!!!!!,
I really enjoyed this film and perhaps only slightly let down by its rather bizarre and possibly implausible ending. Beautifully shot and great performances from the two leads. It was refreshing to see a more vulnerable and endearing performance from Ribisi, Blanchett is very well cast and convincing as the avengeful school teacher.
This is part of a trilogy of films but I think this can be enjoyed standalone and holds very well itself. I would definately recommend this!!!!
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylishly symbolic,
HEAVEN opens to the unrolling, virtual landscape as "seen" in a helicopter flight simulator with the voice-over of the trainer and trainee as the latter navigates the computer-generated topography close to the "ground". The sequence ends as the student pilot climbs his "craft" higher, and higher, and higher until the instructor terminates the session with the caution that one can't keep climbing forever, and turns off the visual display. The last words come from the trainee on a darkened screen in the form of a question. The sequence doesn't make much sense at the moment, but does hint that there's perhaps more to the upcoming plot than the obvious.
Cate Blanchett is Philippa, a British-born English teacher in Turin, Italy, who's lost her husband and at least one student to the ravages of illegal drugs. The narcotics' source, a powerful business executive, is known to the tutor. Not having gotten any help from the police after repeated entreaties, Philippa plants a bomb in the waste can of the dealer's high rise office, and then calls the authorities to take responsibility for the imminent assassination. Unfortunately, the trash is emptied by a cleaning lady before it detonates, and she and three other innocents are ultimately killed in the blast. Philippa is arrested as a terrorist and interrogated, during which time the young police translator, a raw recruit named Filippo (Giovanni Ribisi), falls in love with her and engineers her escape. Philippa declares she has no wish to avoid responsibility for her deadly mistake, but needs the opportunity to balance the scales by finishing the rough justice she intended.
It's a good thing that the director had in mind something more profound than the face-value of the storyline because the latter is occasionally wildly improbable or leaves questions unanswered. If Philippa was the only occupant of her cell, why did the police bug it? How could Filippo, basically just a kid, have the informed smarts to pull off a sophisticated jail break? (The fact that his Dad used to be the local head of the carabinieri isn't enough.) Where did Philippa learn how to construct a bomb? (Her explanation that it was just left in her apartment doesn't cut it, especially since the audience sees her making it.) At the finale, how did the storm troopers and the police helicopter know where to go?
I consider Cate Blanchett to be one of the finest actresses in the business. She doesn't just act a role, she becomes the character. At one point in HEAVEN, her tresses are shorn down to stubble on-screen. How many actors today would have such dedication to a role to do that?
The film is stylishly photographed. The perspective is often above the action, as when the camera is shooting straight down as it passes high across Turin's streetscape, as if the director wants to make the point that the film's message is above the mundane cares of the human ants below. And what is that message? Without sounding to corny, perhaps it's that the sublime event of a lifetime must be grasped at any cost, even if it leads to morally ambiguous actions. The similarity of the names "Philippa" and "Filippo" isn't accidental.
The film's conclusion is perhaps too symbolic. It's unsatisfying in that it skirts the issue of ownership of one's actions, something which Philippa made clear early on she was willing to assume. There's no Bonnie and Clyde denouement here. However, the final screen shot does tie in with the question posed at the end of the opening sequence. HEAVEN.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heaven's Cate.,
Tom Tykwer's third film was produced by Anthony Mingella (The English Patient, The Talented Mr Ripley)a man committed to art cinema (see his excellent version of Beckett's Play) & stems from the final script written by Krzysztof Kieslowski & Kryzystof Piesiewicz (No End, The Dekalog, The Double Life of Veronique, The Three Colours Trilogy). Kieslowski had decided to abandon his post-Three Colours Trilogy imposed retirement & was at work on a projected trilogy based around Dante's The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatory & Heaven. As his work since the Dekalog (which applied the philosophy of the Ten Commandments to Ten hour long films) and Three Colours (which applied the French notions of liberty, equality & fraternity to the modern world), the Dante-trilogy would not be made in total.
Sadly this was due to Kieslowski's tragic death in 1996- 'Heaven' being the last complete work. Of course, it's impossible to know if this was what Kieslowski had in mind- as Dennis Potter's Karaoke/Cold Lazarus, this came in for a lot of criticism partly due to the unknowable represented here. Kieslowski had talked of merely writing films since the Dekalog (see the Faber on book, or Geoff Andrews BFI Three Colours)- so it is possible that he wouldn't have directed it had he lived. Piesiewicz is still alive & approved of Tykwer's adaptation- which counters much of the criticism of cinematic necrophilia regarding this film in several broadsheets.
Many people also noted the similarity between Tykwer's debut hit Run Lola Run (1998) and Kieslowski's 1981 film Blind Chance- which remains unavailable on video (& also provided the source for 1997's Sliding Doors). My advice?- forget the history, watch with an open mind & don't compare to Kieslowski's great works.
Personally, I thought Heaven was one of the strongest films of last year- ranking up there with Mulholland Drive, Pollock, Donnie Darko & Ten. It's a film that would be described as slow, or more accurately "still"- think of such filmmakers as Theo Angelopoulos (Eternity & a Day) or Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas)and you should have an idea. Heaven is a film to literally lose yourself in...
The film opens with the cityscape of Turin from above, prior to Cate Blanchett rising out of a subway to arrive at an office building- she has a plan of revenge against a drug dealer (echoeing a small element in Three Colours: Red). Prior to the opening of the film, Blanchett's husband had died a drugs related death- while children at the school where English teacher Blanchett teaches had also suffered at the same hands. Blanchett goes to exact revenge on the dealer, who is safely entrenched in a modern office block- dumping a home-made bomb in a bin in his office. Unfortunately, in a typically "Kieslowskian" twist- an office cleaner removes the bin- which eventually goes off in a lift, leaving victims including children.
Blanchett is arrested and tells the police that she just intended to kill the dealer- the police refuse to believe her story, partly because the Italian police is in cahoots with the dealer and partly because they think she's a terrorist. Enter Giovanni Ribisi (who also starred with Blanchett in 'The Gift')as a young policeman, who falls in love with the captive Blanchett. This in turn leads to a brilliantly executed escape, prior to a flight that eventually transcends the flawed human world beneath.
Heaven is a visual delight, wonderfully photographed- from the cityscape to the sparse Italian vistas; this in turn is aided by the wonderful music- some of which Tykwer composed himself. There are several standout scenes- notably the scenes where Blanchett & Ribisi reduce themselves to labeless humans: shaving their heads, drinking water, wearing identical blank attire etc. The scene where they get off a train in the middle of nowhere is fantastic; as are the scenes of them running naked through the natural world or the final scene of transcendence.
Heaven is an underrated film, an absolute gem waiting to be rediscovered- it's a different angle on the popular genre of the road movie/lover's on the run- but exactly the kind of thoughtful, philosophical feature that is the antithesis of most of the bilge vomited up by Hollywood. A film that dares not to over-elaborate and give space to the viewer is something that I adore- Heaven is a film that refuses to simplify or pander to the base idiocy of much of today's cinematic product. Blanchett's performance stands out here, her almost beautiful features a perfect canvas within the canvas of the film.
Heaven is a wonderful film, hopefully a work that comes through on the DVD format as much as it did in the cinema. Sometimes less is everything...
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good film,
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Good story, well acted, excellent scenery, good ending. Well worth watching (and you might learn a bit of Italian!)
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Heaven,
Cate Blanchett is absolutely stunning in this, playing an English teacher in Italy, who starts off by seeking revenge but her plan goes badly wrong, only to find herself in jail. Here she meets Fillipo, the interpreter who seeks pity on her and falls in love with her and manages to plan her escape. Amazingly you are routing for her, even though she has killed four people including two children. A truly great film. Don`t miss the commentary by the director too which is superb.
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Heaven [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] by Tom Tykwer (DVD - 2003)