The Princess Diaries

“Heavenly Creatures” is a curious little film to unearth. I think it’ll be forever known as the movie that placed two huge stars on the cinema map. In 1994 though, I imagine this film got its attention because it is based on a grisly true story of two young ladies who commit murder.

The movie lifts off its narrative straight out of the diaries of Pauline Parker (Melanie Lynskey), which chronicle Pauline’s friendship with a heady girl named Juliet Hulme. Their relationship develops so fervently that it ventures into Sapphic territory. In addition to their ambiguous sexuality, the film is also keen on their dependence on lofty and romantic imagination. These girls are hardly ever grounded and realistic. They’d rather spend days imagining they are princesses in their own made-up world. When circumstances force them to separate, these teen girls reach a dangerous level of dramatic flair. They become so delusional that their solution of murder is hardly logical in my opinion.

As previously mentioned, there are two rising talents you might recognize from this film. The more identifiable one is a young actress named Kate Winslet, who plays Juliet. Even as a teen, Winslet is already adept at playing imaginative and wild female characters. She easily shines in the looniest role I’ve seen her play. Likewise, the director, someone by the name Peter Jackson, also displays some promising skill. Jackson likes to play with cameras and has an obvious fondness towards creative special effects. He also shares the girls’ penchant for medieval stories of kings, princesses, and knights. It’s a penchant that would even look more grand in his blockbuster trilogy. The guy is a confirmed visionary early on. But one wonders, if Jackson will ever attempt little drama fares like this anymore. Will he be stereotyped to direct massive epics like LOTR or gargantuan monster tales like “King Kong”? (On a side note: I don’t think George Lucas ever went back to directing low scale movies (like his “American Graffiti”) after the success of “Star Wars.”)

The good news about “Heaven Creatures” is that it’s less than two hours and lacks multiple endings. However, there are several scenes when the movie does feel long, especially when it’s overwrought and melodramatic. Yes, I know it suits the mentality of the lead characters, but the effect leaves me more irritated than intrigued. Jackson seems so in love with his material that he’s blind to the movie’s flaws. He needs an impartial and ruthless editor and cut out chunks of scenes that drag on. Overall, the film works though, particularly in delving into the teenage girls’ psyche. Anyone who has gone through puberty knows how that phase has the potential to be self-destructive. It’s a shocking portrait of what young imaginative minds can do.

Grade: B+

CAST
Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet, Diana Kent, Sarah Peirse, Clive Merrison, Simon O’Connor, Jed Brophy, and Kirsty Ferry
Screenplay by
Peter Jackson
Frances Walsh
Directed by
Peter Jackson
Rated R for mature and sexual
themes & violence
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