Tuesday, June 1, 2010
This quiet little movie defied any and all low expectations I had about it prior to hitting PLAY. My doubts were in place simply because of the blurb about it on IFC, which listed Giovanni Ribisi as playing an Italian cop who falls in love with Cate Blanchett. If you are like me in that you type-cast Ribisi as a bumbling idiot clown, you should watch this movie. And then remember that he was on that episode of the X-Files where he was electricity personified and he turned on jukeboxes and defibrillators with his mind. And he narrated The Virgin Suicides.
Heaven begins with a revenge scenario gone horribly awry, but the explosion is the loudest and most jarring part of the film. Silence is more conducive to portraying fear, loneliness, and regret, which are a few of the themes here. Blanchett plays an English woman living in Italy, looking for justice. She is effectively waging a one-woman war against drugs, claiming that the police have not heeded her many calls and letters about a man she says played a role in her husband's death. Blanchett is stupendous as always, but Tom Twyker, the director (Run Lola Run), does not allow the movie to be obsessed with her beauty. She is a character actor, and here she is allowed to be ugly, or as ugly as she can be, which is not very much at all...
All the usual plot devices from prison/cop movies are here: loss, revenge, love, and escape. The difference is that they have been turned on their heads. No car chases, no shootouts, no passionate sex scenes. But it is a better cop movie than most. At its core, it is a love story. Go hit PLAY.