Heaven (***)

(2002) dir. Tom Tykwer – w/ Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Remo Girone, etc.

Synopsis: Cate Blanchett plays Philippa, a British teacher living in Italy. Drugs infect her life through the figure of drug-dealer Marco Vendice (also a prominent businessman), killing her husband and one of her students. To fight back, Philippa takes the law into her own hands (as the saying goes), going after said drug dealer Marco with a homemade bomb. Her plan goes awry, and she winds up being interrogated by the police, who think she is a member of some terrorist group. She requests a translator for the interrogations, that translator—newly inducted Filippo (Giovanni Ribisi)—subsequently becoming somewhat smitten with her. The plot unfolds. Philippa seeks out something resembling redemption, and Filippo seeks out something resembling an understanding with his father (Remo Girone, who has probably one of the best-conceived roles of the entire movie).

Review: What ‘Heaven’ most feels like is an incomplete, rough draft of a screenplay that’s given full production by a loving cast and crew; the result is stunning scenes that act as a backdrop to poorly drawn characters (acted as well as could possibly be expected by the cast), a questionable plot, and dubious dialogue. It’s watchable, and interesting, but you can’t help but feel that it could have been so much better. The plot is largely transparent—you can see exactly where it’s going—and, more often than not, you get to the destination with much less plot development than you’d expect. The result is like a daydream, everything unfolding in an offhanded, distracted way. Which isn’t by itself a bad thing, but I couldn’t help but feel that there was a much, much better movie lurking below the surface, if only the plot had been fleshed out more, etc., etc., etc. This movie is maybe somewhat original, and there are parts that are actually pretty good, but as a whole it falls far below the level of Tykwer’s ‘Lola Rennt’ and ‘Der Krieger und die Kaiserin.’

Rating: [•••] out of [•••••]


  • LANGUAGE: partial subtitles (parts of the movie are in English, other parts are in Italian and subtitled in English)