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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Heaven

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi
Director: Tom Tykwer
Rated: R
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: October 2002
Genres: Drama, Romance, Foreign, Italian

*Also starring: Stefano Santospago, Remo Girone, Max Giusti

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

German director Tom Tykwer in his first English language film -- it's actually half in Italian -- proves once again, as he did in RUN LOLA RUN and THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR, that he knows how to mesmerize audiences. Working this time from a script by Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz, Tykwer isn't in as much control as he is when working from his own material. The result is that HEAVEN isn't as a strong an offering as his last two pictures, but it is a completely successful piece of filmmaking.

The two stars of the story, Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi, play characters who at first seem quite different but end up literally looking like twins, androgynous skinhead twins no less.

You may have heard that HEAVEN is about a bomber, which is true but misleading. Philippa (Blanchett), a one-woman vigilante squad, is on a mission to kill an Italian drug kingpin, but complications set in, so she ends up killing innocent people and being viewed as a terrorist. The story, which is alternately more complex and simpler than it seems, involves police cover-ups and a jail escape. What is always clear is that Philippa feels tremendous guilt for her mistake, and Filippo (Ribisi), an interpreter who helps her, risks everything for his newfound love.

Filippo, a boyish man, looks like a cherub from heaven, which is one of many references to the film's title. Another is Tykwer's propensity to point his camera down from the heavens to view stunning scenes of the mortals below. The key scene that shows the definitive reason for the title is an amazing, yet straightforward sequence that will take your breath away.

Although he doesn't play the same time tricks that he did in his previous pictures, Tykwer does make time slow down in HEAVEN without resorting to slow motion. Maybe in another decade or so, some smart organizer will plan an entire film festival of just Tykwer's works. If so, I'll be the first one in line to buy tickets.

HEAVEN runs 1:36. The film is in English and in Italian with English subtitles. It is rated R for "a scene of sexuality" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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