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A Little Bit of Heaven

A Little Bit of Heaven

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

IT’S funny how a film title that promises A Little Bit of Heaven can seem a lot like hell. But that’s the case with this lame new comedy drama, which attempts to marry romantic comedy elements with a death’s door predicament to predictably terrible effect.

Kate Hudson stars as Marley, a free spirited woman with commitment issues (ie she prefers sleeping around), who eventually falls in love with the doctor (Gael Garcia Bernal) who diagnoses her with terminal cancer.

What ensues is a seemingly interminable mix of rom-com ‘feel-good’ montages, hankie-inducing ‘farewells’ and surreal interludes where Marley gets to ‘visit’ God (in the form of Whoopi Goldberg) for counselling.

The most surprising element in all this, however, is the presence of director Nicole Kassell, whose previous work The Woodsman tackled a difficult subject matter (namely, a child molestor trying to re-enter society) in sensitive and intelligent fashion.

Here, however, she becomes bogged down in Hollywood cliche even though she might argue that the combination of drama, comedy and tragedy is a brave thing to take on.

The surreal God moments (one mid-colonoscopy) are truly awful… as nausea inducing as they are sanctimonious. While the romantic comedy elements sit uncomfortably alongside the terminal disease elements. The film never finds a consistent tone.

It’s almost a shame, given that the starry cast work overtime to try and bring some depth to proceedings. Hudson is good, Bernal is adequate and there’s affecting support from the likes of Kathy Bates and Treat Williams, as Hudson’s parents, and Lucy Punch, Rosemarie DeWitt and Romany Malco, as her various friends.

But for every moment that tugs at the heart-strings (and we do mean tug), there are a dozen others that truly make you groan (and not in a good way), meaning that this ill-conceived fluff piece on love, life and death is pretty much dead on arrival.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 108mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: September 5, 2011