Heavenly Creatures (1994)

9.5 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

A great adaptation of a crazy story


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Heavenly Creatures

Studio:  WingNut Films

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  September 2, 1994 (Venice Film Festival)/October 14, 1994 (New Zealand)/November 16, 1994 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R


A friend that helps a friend commit matricide is a friend you hold on to…

Pauline Rieper (Melanie Lynskey) has finally found a friend in Juliet Hulme (Kate Winslet).  Growing up in Christchurch, New Zealand in the 1950s, the two create a world of magic known as the Fourth World and retreat into it whenever they need to escape their troubles.  When Juliet and Pauline’s parents decide that they must be separated, the two must find a way to stay together…forever!

Directed by Peter Jackson, Heavenly Creatures also boasted a script by Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh.  The movie adapts the true story of Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme and the news making murder that occurred in 1954.  The movie was released to critical acclaim and helped propel both Peter Jackson and Kate Winslet to fame.  The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.


Yeah…they’s girls are c-r-a-z-y

Before Heavenly Creatures, Peter Jackson was more of a cult director and this pushed him into mainstream.  If you watched his movies like Bad Taste, Dead-Alive, or Meet the Feebles, you really wouldn’t be expecting Heavenly Creatures since it marked such a different style and look than in his previous films.  I’d still argue that it is his best.

I enjoy the first Lord of the Rings trilogy, but there is something about Heavenly Creatures that captures both the needed fantasy and dark realism which made Jackson perfect for the movie.  The fact that the movie is based on a true story (and relatively follows the basic story) that gives it a chilling effect.  You know at the beginning of the movie what occurs and it is a sense of dread and anticipation that propel you through the film.  You can see the girls going down the deadly path and you can’t stop it or see how it can be stopped since the parents just keep making it worse.


A very “real” murder…horrific and showing the contrast of the movie’s fantasy.

The movie is Kate Winslet’s premiere film and shows her early skill.  She’s the more outgoing of the two girls and outspoken.  Winslet’s acting style really works with movie, but she plays great off of Lynskey who also premiered in the film.  Lynskey has also gone on to success in mostly supporting roles in movies like Up in the Air and TV shows like Two and a Half Men but she is less recognizable than Winslet (and also generally doesn’t act with an accent).

The movie looks fantastic.  Jackson blends the fantasy world of the girls with a ’50s version of New Zealand (similar to his Dead-Alive film).  The movie is quite seamless in its transitions between reality and fantasy and you can see glimpses of why Jackson was selected for The Lord of the Rings.

I loved Heavenly Creatures when it was released and watched it a number of times.  Going back to the film it has held up (despite some of my souring feelings toward Peter Jackson over the years).  The movie is a great drama and almost a horror movie in presentation of a horrific murder that shocked everyone.  It is a great “true crime” film that gets that almost all crimes have motives and that they aren’t just sensationalized headlines.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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