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Cate Blanchett as Philippa
Giovanni Ribisi as Filippo
Remo Girone as Filippo's Father
Stefania Rocca as Regina
Alessandro Sperduti as Ariel
Mattia Sbragia as Major Pini
Stefano Santospago as Mr. Vendice
Alberto Di Stasio as The Prosecutor
Giovanni Vettorazzo as The Inspector
Gianfranco Barra as The Lieutenant
Vincent Riotta as Chief Guard
Mauro Marino as Doctor
Stefania Orsola Garello as Vendice's Secretary
Fausto Lombardi as Father High Rise
Giorgia Coppa as Older Daughter
Commentary by director Tom Tykwer
Featurette "The Story of Heaven"
Space Cam Fly-By
Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
Widescreen (1.85:1) – Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Original Language Track (English and Italian with English subtitles)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
When Philippa’s husband dies of a drug overdose, she goes to the police to turn in the dealer. However, he has bought off the police and they do not respond to her. Deciding to take the law into her own hands, she plants a bomb in his office. However, through a series of unfortunate circumstances, the bomb fails to kill the dealer and instead kills four innocent people.
When Philippa is arrested, the police don’t believe she acted alone. Having no record of her previous complaints, they believe she’s part of a terrorist group. Unable to prove her story, she falls into despair. Only one of the police is sympathetic to her. Filippo believes her story and decides to help her escape from prison. He also believes he’s falling in love with her. Together the two evade the corrupt police and set out to seek revenge on the drug dealer. However, the path they follow only leads to one inevitable conclusion.
Heaven is rated R for a scene of sexuality.
Heaven stars two of my favorite actors, Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi. They both deliver powerful and emotional performances. Blanchett particularly stands out as Philippa. Her reaction at discovering she has killed four innocent people is one of the most memorable scenes in the film. She’s also shaved bald in a unique look for her. Both of the actors deliver their lines in Italian for a good portion of the film. While I don’t speak Italian, I thought they did a convincing job of making me believe it was their native languages. In fact, I was starting to worry that the whole film would be in Italian after watching it for a while.
While foreign films aren’t usually of interest to me, this one pulled me in early and had me hooked. The opening scene of Philippa blowing up the office was tense and dramatic. Her escape scene from the prison is also cleverly done. Tom Tykwer, director of “Run Lola, Run” is at the helm of this film. He not only handles the suspense well, but he makes the film beautiful too. Every frame of the movie is beautifully set up and really sets an appropriate tone. The film also has a strong pedigree behind it with Sydney Pollack acting as executive producer.
However, for as much good as there was in this film, there was bad. Simply put, the movie becomes very boring about halfway into the story. Typical of French cinema, there are long lingering moments where nothing happens. There are long stretches of time where nobody says a line of dialogue. And true to form, the film ends and leaves you wondering if it’s really over and what the heck you just saw. Heaven starts out strong as a dramatic, suspenseful thriller but ends as art house fare that may or may not be your cup of tea.
This DVD is rather light on the extras:
Commentary by director Tom Tykwer – Tykwer delivers an interesting commentary. He talks throughout the entire film discussing working with the actors, technical aspects of the film, and the underlying themes behind it. He talks about shaving Blanchett’s head, biblical themes in the movie, and more. My only wish is that he would have spoken more about what he meant by the ending. He implies the characters die, but it’s never conclusive.
Featurette "The Story of Heaven" - This 5 minute video features the director, Blanchett, Ribisi, and Pollack discussing the film. While it’s good to see some behind the scenes footage, they don’t offer much insight into the story.
Space Cam Fly-By – The director fell in love with a special camera mounted to a helicopter in the movie. He filmed numerous scenes of flying over the beautiful Italian countryside with Blanchett and Ribisi walking in the distance. He filmed so much, in fact, they he couldn’t use it all in the movie. It is included here for your viewing pleasure.
Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary – The deleted scenes show around 6 scenes removed from the film. None add much to the story, though one establishes earlier that Ribisi’s father was the former chief of police. There are a couple more scenes with his brother and father, more of the escape scene, and a shot of the attic roof leaking in a rain storm. The final deleted scene is more of a blooper as Blanchett flubs a scene in a bathroom. Overall, they’re a nice extra but nothing special.
The Bottom Line:
I only recommend this one for fans of Blanchett, Ribisi, art house films, and director Tom Tykwer.