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Monday, 1 December 2014

Heavenly Creatures

Recently I have been obsessed by this movie I accidentally found whilst looking at videos of French films ("Don't Deliver Us From Evil", another film about the Parker-Hulme murder case in Christchurch, New Zealand, to be exact).

Heavenly Creatures has to be one of the best movies I've seen so far, especially for one that mixes fantasy with romance and horror! It is hauntingly beautiful, with jaw-dropping views of the New Zealand scenery, gorgeous colours of flowers and flowing gowns that the girls imagine, and an air of innocent first love. However, as peaceful and beautiful as it may seem at first, we are cruelly brought back down to earth with the grisly fact that this is a murder story of two girls who committed matricide. Also, that it was indeed based on a real-life story of an event that happened in 1954, which makes everything that little bit more disturbing...

The story begins with a brief introduction to the everyday life of Christchurch, where everything is perfect; then, it cuts to a scene at the end, with two girls running down a path, covered in blood and screaming horrifically. The quick contrast is quite alarming, and makes you wonder what on earth happened to those poor girls... until the end, that is.

Juliet Hulme is a bold, witty girl from an affluent English family, who moves to New Zealand with her parents because of her health problem, which requires her to live in a warm environment. Her parents seem nice at first, but it is obvious that she suffered from neglect throughout her life, as she reveals that she was flown to the Bahamas to recover from a disease for several months, without her parents, who were busy sorting out their own lives; plus, when she was in hospital with TB, they abandon her to go abroad!

Pauline Rieper (known as Parker in the trial) is a girl around Juliet's age, who comes from a working-class family. In my opinion she is very imaginative and courageous, but it is obvious that Juliet is the one with the brains in their relationship. At times she is saccharine sweet, and at others, absolutely sullen; a quality that shows from her expression how far she will go to get her own way.

Together, they flourish a wonderful, thriving friendship that borders on romance; they create stories of Borovnia, make clay figures of their fantastical characters, act out the scenes of the book, and Pauline keeps a diary that documents their friendship. At first, they bond over the topic of childhood illness, something they both suffered. But soon, their friendship became obsessive, and they were practically joined at the hip.

 When they are apart, all they can think of is each other and their fantasies (many of which include each other, with their alternate aliases, and the "bedroom"  events that happen between them both), which contributes towards the rage they both express when their parents are worried that their friendship is getting out of hand.

They frequently kiss each other on the cheek and lips, hold each other, hold hands, sleep in the same bed, bathe together, take slightly inappropriate photos of each other, and at one point even make love together whilst Pauline stayed the night; which was a contrast to the sex scene that went on between Pauline and the lodger that was staying with her parents, which seemed confused, hurried, loveless, and even a little bit revolting in my opinion... which, needless to say, Pauline did not enjoy - throughout she could only think of Juliet - and when the man is chasing her later on, she imagines him being brutally cut in two. Throughout, it is certain that the two girls regard each other with a little more than just pure friendship in mind. I found the romance perfectly executed, even beautiful, as the two girls look completely in love with one another, with lingering looks, shared emotions, and innocent physical contact - Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynsky do a wonderful job acting as lovers! They are completely convincing!

 As their parents start becoming concerned, they are advised to spend less time together, and Juliet's dad even advised Pauline's mother to take her to a child psychologist, as being gay or lesbian was considered a serious mental illness during the early 20th century. Pauline's moodiness when she was taken to the doctor's for being gay was perfect; she completely refused to speak at first, and then imagined the doctor being impaled for suggesting that she spends less time with Juliet! Naturally, I found the nasty doctor's little speech about homosexuality rather offensive, especially the way he spat it out like a dirty word, mentioning that with modern day medicine there may be a cure for it.... but I suppose it adds to the historical context; if it weren't for their parents' worry about their relationship, Pauline's mother would never have been murdered by the girls.

 Over time, they grow to resent their parents, which leads to the murder of Honora Rieper.  Their daydreams become more and more violent, where they remove all of the people who get in their way one by one... Pauline narrates with cryptic, yet simple, entries from her diary, which makes things even creepier... Matters are made worse when Juliet's parents tell her of their plan to divorce, and consider sending her away to South Africa to live with relatives.

When Honora bends down to pick up a pink jewel that they leave on the path as bait, they bludgeon her to death with half a brick inside a stocking, then run down the park path and scream for help. Soon afterwards they were arrested, as the police found Pauline's disturbing diary, labeled "The day of the happy event" on the day that they killed Honora.

Overall, I found this film fantastic, the ending making my heart sink drastically every time... It is very emotional, and made me cry quite frequently! This film combines all of the things I love; lesbian romance, fantasies, horror, beautiful clothes, and the 50s! The actors are phenomenal, and the soundtrack, special effects, dark humour and horror are all perfect. I would recommend this film, but only to the open minded.

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