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2002-11-07 - 8:32 a.m.

Heaven Ė The Definitive Review

Heaven is a pretentious film students wet dream, full of imagery and foreshadow, all nuance and subtlety. Itís also an Italian film made by a German without any stereotypical Italian moments, found in typical American, and even Italian films. Itís a passionate film, and they are real passions. Like the love of a father for his son, the worshiping of an older brother. The love of a teacher taking the only option she feels is left. Kate Blanchet plays Phillipa, whose assassination attempt towards a respected businessman and drug dealer goes horribly wrong and innocent people are killed. Giovanni Ribsi plays Filipo, a young lieutenant who falls in love with her and helps her escape. The pacing was consistent without plodding and drew perfectly to an inevitable, foreshadowed conclusion. This movie had moments that were more beautiful than the Tuscan countryside and renaissance architecture that served as its backdrop. Itís an emotional film. People might not like that. Iím normally one of those people, but this film wins me. Because it was brave. Tom Tykwer has created quite an ambitious film. It never hurries, and that was something that I liked best about it. Like a metronome, the story unfolds at a precise pace, and while there is action, itís nothing one might expect. No contrived escapes and police shoot outs set to a Paul Oakenfold track. No bungling cops or superhuman feats of daring and strength. There are no surprises, there are no secrets. Itís very honest and forward. Cate Blanchet gives a performance that is so believable and nuanced, that itís heart breakingly beautiful. Like all of Tykwerís films, the female character is the glue binding the film together. Blanchet perfectly anchors the action and events. Giovanni Ribsi plays the understated male role with his usual panache. Again, the film is very emotional; the emotions that make us who we are, the passions that draw our choices. There are no alternate choices like Lola Rent or twists of fate like The Princess and the Warrior even though the gorgeous Tuscan cities and countryside give it such a fantasy look. The classic architecture and timeless beauty enthralled me throughout. It also wouldnít be a Tykwer film if there were not tremendous weight placed on choices: the little decisions that we make daily that lead to tomorrow and the next or to tragedy. Are we in control? Or is fate determining our actions. Emotion and Passion drove the decisions of all the characters. Unlike the audience I saw it with, I really liked this film. I was captivated from start to finish. The elderly couple behind and to the right of me along with the Sorority girls (because Giovanni is so HOT!!!!!) who felt the need to talk throughout. Whether a running dialogue about an anniversary trip to Tuscany or giggling monologues on how HOT!!!!! her future husband is, there was something that could possibly annoy anyone. But the film kept the annoyance at bay. Itís rude of me to say this, but only see this movie if you can appreciate it. If you can be patient and enjoy the precision. Itís not a Let me save my new girlfriend who blew up some people by accident so she can take out an evil drug lord who owns the police and we can live happily ever after because sheís really not all that bad. Because then you would be disappointed. Donít go because the leads are hot. Donít go because I tell you itís good. Go because sometimes, films are more than the sum of their parts and should be appreciated as art. Go because Italy is a beautiful country and there are no stereotypes. Go because you are not afraid to be disappointed.

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