Jackson Very Terrible Try to Make Better

It’s that time again, where I watch the entire filmography of the director of the film I’ve been assigned for Cinema 52. Unlike Tony Scott or Robert Zemeckis, however, the director of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring can’t seem to ever release just one cut of his films. So, not only am I cramming twelve movies into one exhausting weekend, but specifically the longest available version of each film. That’s right, it’s not just the complete Peter Jackson… it’s COMPLETER JACKSON. Let’s do this.

HEAVENLY CREATURES (1994)

IS THIS A PAINFULLY LONG PETER? I’m rocking the 109-minute uncut version, which is a whopping 10 minutes longer than the original release.

THE PLOT:
Based on true events, you say? Well, isn’t that a bit of a departure from the bloody goofy gorefests that predate it in the Peter Jackson canon? Neat. So what’s it about?

Aww, BFFs!

I can’t wait to see Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) and Juliet (Kate Winslet) have all sorts of friendship adventures together!

Whee! Bikes!

What kinds of mischief can these precocious young pals get up to together? Bottle rockets? Homemade kites? Jump rope–shit, nobody makes a movie out of someone’s diary unless the writer was involved in something awful, do they?

But friendship! Bicycle times!

This is a story of two people that want to be together forever and are firmly told no. Everybody involved rejects the reality of the situation and nobody does the right thing about it. There are no heroes here.

To summarize further, awfulness begets awfulness.

THE STYLE:
What really makes Heavenly Creatures stand out in the biopic genre is how it takes you beyond the events of its subjects’ lives and attempts to show you how they saw the world around them.

That’s right, as a moderately interesting garden.

The stories they create together frequently reach beyond their play sessions, which is both exciting and disturbing. It gives you a heightened sense of the girls’ passion for sharing a life together but also forces you to question their psychological well-being. The movie wisely avoids taking sides while using the fantasy elements to repeatedly make the audience change their stance.

C’mon, their lives are shitty, nothing wrong with a little romantic escapism–
WHOA, okay, psychologist-gutting fantasies are a red flag.

It’s mind-bending the way special effects are used to tell a very dramatic, very realistic, very true story.

THE EFFECTS:
This is Peter Jackson’s first film to use CGI, but only in a couple of scenes; every other special effect is both grand in scope and achieved practically and creatively with makeup, miniatures, costumes, lighting, set design, etc. It never rivals Middle-earth, of course, but damn, does it try.

And on 1/18th of the budget, no less.

I could show you more screenshots of the effects, but why not see all of them by watching the movie?

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Peter Jackson has made exactly one biopic to date… and it may be among the greatest I’ve ever seen. Heavenly Creatures is an experimental but effective character study that proves Jackson can use his talents for more than just entertainment. While he’s definitely skilled at making purely fun films, it’s nice to know he can bust my gut and break my heart. Heavenly Creatures is a must-see.

UP NEXT: The Frighteners (1996)