Heaven (15)

Review by Jack Foley

SOME of cinema’s most creative and visionary talents from Europe and America combine to make Heaven, an intense and profoundly moving love story featuring two powerhouse performances from its captivating leads.

Directed by Tom (Run Lola Run) Tykwer, and produced by Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack, the film finds Giovanni Ribisi’s love-struck police officer offering to help Cate Blanchett’s would-be assassin to fulfil her agenda in the hope that their flight will lead to something ‘beautiful’; a type of other-worldly heaven that could bring about some form of redemption.

For Blanchett, however, the subsequent escape from captivity is merely a means to an end - the chance to complete the killing - before facing up to the consequences of her actions. For her, life is no longer worth living with the burden of guilt, even though she finds herself unwittingly drawn to Ribisi.

Based upon a script from the late Polish director, Krzystof Kieslowski (the man behind the acclaimed Three Colours trilogy), and shot entirely on location in northern Italy, Tykwer’s movie is a deeply affecting journey that is as heartbreaking, at times, as it can be uplifting; even though its premise can seem a little unbelievable.

It also confronts its challenging subject matter in a compelling and mature way, delivering, in part, a tightly-wound thriller and, in its latter stages, a thoughtful, if surreal, exploration of the mystery of love and chance.

Making good use of its chosen locations (both visually and spiritually), Tykwer’s richly symbolic journey is made all the more satisfying by the richness of its performances, with both Blanchett and Ribisi building on the terrific on-screen chemistry they first shared in Sam Raimi’s psychological thriller, The Gift.

Blanchett has the showier of the roles, projecting a range of emotions as she is forced to come to terms with the consequences of her actions - her bomb, intended for a drug dealer, claims four innocent victims (including two children) - while still intent on completing her agenda, but Ribisi is a revelation; quietly going to extreme lengths to assist the object of his desire while fully aware of the cost to both himself and his family. There is also heartfelt support from Remo Girone as Ribisi’s father.

It is credit to both the skills of its performers and the vision of its director that Heaven never succumbs to schmaltz or laziness, delivering the type of picture that is certain to be counted among the year’s most thought-provoking romances. It is a movie which, ultimately, continues to ask questions of its viewers long after it has finished.

RELATED STORIES: Click here for a Q&A with Tom Tykwer...