Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The indisputable darling of European art house cinema died in 1996 with the first script from his new trilogy, Heaven, Hell And Purgatory, written but not made. Krzysztof Kieslowski was a Pole who collaborated with lawyer-turned-writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz on the extraordinary, made-for-TV, Ten Commandments series, Dekalog, from which A Short Film About Killing was extracted for the screen, as well as the beautiful, enigmatic Colours trilogy.

Anthony Minghella was approached to direct Heaven, but declined as he prefers to work from his own scripts, like now, in Romania, on Cold Mountain. The powers that be at Miramax, the New York distributors who merged with Disney to become players in movie production, chose the German director, Tom Tykwer, to bring Kieslowski's work to the screen. It was an odd choice and, as it turns out, a bad one. Tykwer's name was made in 1998 with Run Lola Run, a sexy, inventive comedy thriller that became an international hit.

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Heaven is concerned with retribution, responsibility for your own actions and an individual's right to take the law into his/her own hands. It has an anarchic edge. Tykwer has turned it into a romance, with an ending that should be dropped down a very deep hole.

Cate Blanchett plays an Englishwoman in Turin who attempts to assassinate a businessman. She kills four innocent people instead and is devastated. After her arrest, she is interrogated.

Giovanni Ribisi plays a policeman who acts as interpreter and note taker at the interrogation. He falls in love with Blanchett at first sight and plans her escape.

Not only is the subsequent action unbelievable, but the romantic implications absurd. The Englishwoman is traumatised by what she has done, while the policeman is an emotionally repressed mouse with the charisma of cabbage soup.

It is difficult to imagine what Kieslowski would have done, other than not this. It would have been darker, certainly, and less of a hand-holding exercise in the Tucson hills. Blanchett gives an intense performance and the American actor Ribise is utterly convincing as an Italian.

The morality of murder has no place in a movie that wants to feel good. The heart's desire, like pollution, poisons debate.

Reviewed on: 08 Aug 2002
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Cate Blanchett tries to assassinate a drug dealer in Turin and is helped by a sympathetic young cop.
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Director: Tom Tykwer

Writer: Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Remo Girone, Stefania Rocca, Alessandro Sperduti, Pini Mattia, Stefano Santospago, Alberto Di Stasio

Year: 2002

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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