DVD Review
Heaven poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published June 20, 2003
US Release: October 4, 2002

Running Time: 93 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $774,000
55 of 143
Polished filmmaking that doesn?t rise to its full potential
The slightly disappointing factor about Heaven, despite admiring it, is that throughout its duration there are signs that a really good if not terrific motion picture could?ve been achieved.

However, it is lacking a strong enough script to elevate itself to such an admirable level; as a result, the film is polished filmmaking that doesn?t rise to its full potential.
Coming from the director of Run Lola Run and The Princess and the Warrior (Tom Tykwer), film fans would expect a visually captivating experience from Heaven, along with fine performances. Those two components are well coordinated, but where the flick misses a mark is within its story structure; we?re handed a plot that in the long run needs additional support that it never gives itself for deep emotional attachment.

With stars Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi as the leads, I had a level of acting expectations to be met, especially since they were under a very talented director. Fortunately I was quite satisfied with that division of the film, but in one argument they are probably making the script look even fancier than it is. This is a story that truthfully doesn?t have a whole lot to it in terms of substance, but through the acting and directing execution, the film breathes life that probably wouldn?t exist without Tykwer behind the lens

Some could possibly argue that this film is a prime case of style over substance, as the cinematography is occasionally beautiful and mesmerizing, the quiet musical score passionately lingers, and yet the script doesn?t have much to say. But I defend that, as there is some genuine art that comes out of this movie, even if some of it is via the visuals; but some of that art is also through the acting, and when that factor is in gear you can?t necessarily label it as a cheat.

Following the death of Philippa Paccard?s (Blanchett) husband, who was intertwined in a deadly drug deal with the police failing to investigate the matter, Philippa takes the matter into her own hands, attempting to place a bomb in the dealer?s office wastebasket. When the operation proves unsuccessful, it accidentally causes the lives of four innocent bystanders who interfere with the device. Now under arrest for her supposed motivation, Philippa finds herself in love?s corner when an officer (Filippo ? Ribisi) translating her language falls for her. Convinced of her innocence, Filippo attempts to help her escape from the facility, running away with her in the process.

There?s really no denying that Heaven has nearly pitch-perfect cinematography and directing at times, with the acting a highlight on its own. But where I found myself stumbling was when it came to feeling compassion for our two leads; going into the movie I liked the stars already, which probably aided somewhat, but never truly invested a significant amount of emotional attachment toward their ambitions. What kept me going was Tykwer?s visual awe, along with the mystery of where the story would eventually lead.

In the end, I wasn?t truly impressed but was indeed content with the wide-open ending it presents. If this film had built around its characters with more of an intense eye, Heaven would?ve been a marvel to observe with nearly every scene. The way it stands, though, this feature is still an impressive work from a filmmaker who continuously proves why movies can be so enjoyable or simply intriguing.

Tykwer, in a sense, is a filmmaker who centers on the possibilities of life, and after seeing his latest work you wish there were more of these types of independent films around. They make you gaze at the screen in delight, attach to the characters to some degree, and above all, they make you think; after experiencing the journey, it?s probably one of the few films you?ll remember having seen in a month?s time.

DVD Features:
- Feature Commentary by Director Tom Tykwer
- "The Story of Heaven" Featurette
- Deleted Scenes (w/ Optional Commentary by Director)
- Space Cam-Fly-By
- Widescreen

Audio Features:
- Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
- Original Language Track
- French Subtitles
Lee's Grade: B
Ranked #55 of 143 between Resident Evil (#54) and Morvern Callar (#56) for 2002 movies.
Lee's Overall Grading: 2976 graded movies
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