The tagline for Tom Tykwer’s latest could easily read: Kieślowski Lives! If Tykwer’s unofficial “blind chance” trilogy (Wintersleepers, Run Lola Run and The Princess and the Warrior) is as punishing as Kieślowski’s Trois couleurs triptych then Heaven brings to mind the late Polish director’s more somber years. Though less ambiguous than any of the Dekalog films, this first part of Kieślowski’s planned Divine Comedy trilogy is every bit as ambitious and riveting. This moral agitprop pits an angelic schoolteacher Philippa (Cate Blanchett) and her guardian angel Filippo (Giovanni Ribisi) against Turin’s corrupt carabinieri. Philippa kills four innocent people with a homemade bomb intended for the man responsible for pushing drugs on her husband and students. Tykwer evokes his tireless obsession with coincidence via a chillingly choreographed shot of Philippa walking away from the building where she’s planted her bomb. Heaven isn’t defined or burdened by such portraitures of happenstance; indeed, this may be the only scene in the film that directly fiddles with blind chance. Tykwer’s aesthetic has noticeably matured since last year’s riveting if not frivolous Princess and the Warrior. His solemn overheads suggest the presence of a higher being while a cutaway to a colossal clock’s many gears calls attention to the film’s moral mechanism. Kieślowski and Piesiewicz’s screenplay grapples with a woman’s responsibility to the world when no one will listen. Though devastated by the news that she destroyed innocent lives, Philippa will only accept punishment after drug lord Vendici (Stefano Santospago) accepts his. There’s no escaping the film’s divine moments. Once they’ve conquered the film’s virtual battleground, there’s only one place for the film’s Adam and Eve (see Blanchett and Ribisi’s shadowy sex scene) to go. The film begins inside a helicopter flight simulator and ends with the film’s star-crossed lovers slowly rising to Heaven aboard a real helicopter. Though Philippa’s final confrontation with Vendici evokes an angel delivering God’s judgement, Tykwer remains surprisingly non-judgmental. Heaven is a haunting dramatization of a couple’s moral ascension.
- Miramax Films
- 96 min
- Tom Tykwer
- Krzysztof Kieślowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz
- Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Remo Girone, Stefania Rocca, Alessandro Sperduti, Mattia Sbragia, Alberto Di Stasio, Giovanni Vettorazzo, Gianfranco Barra, Vincenzo Ricotta, Mauro Marino
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: