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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film looks at friendship, fantasy, and obsession, as well as how repression can be acted out to an extreme.
Positive Role Models
In some ways, Pauline and Juliette seem like any other teenage girls who are obsessed with a handsome singer, spend all their waking hours together, and rebel against the actions and rules of their parents. This makes their extreme actions all the scarier. Authority figures are strict and stodgy. Parents are often seen as clueless or befuddled by the actions of their children.
Violence & Scariness
Two girls are shown running through and out of a forest, screaming and covered in blood; later a graphic murder scene is shown. Scenes of imagined swordfights with life-size clay figures are shown hacking and slicing; sometimes these clay figures are imagined by one of the girls to be attacking someone in real life, like when a psychologist is shown being stabbed through the chest with a sword.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A teen girl is shown losing her virginity, showing a neck-up shot of a man as he has sex with her. The two girls in the film are often shown in a tub together. While in the middle of imaginative play involving characters they have made up, the two characters strip down to their undergarments and briefly kiss on the cheeks. Questions are raised throughout the film, by parents and authority figures, as to whether or not the two girls are homosexuals.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Set in the 1950's, some characters are shown smoking. Brief scenes of drinking at dinner, but no one is intoxicated.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Heavenly Creatures is based on a true story about two teenage girls in the 1950s who murder one of the girl's mothers. The murder scene is intense, graphic, and suspenseful -- way too much for tweens, most young teens, and any sensitive viewer. There is an air of budding sexuality throughout the film that is sometimes innocent, other times with hints of lesbian psychosexual drama. One of the teen characters is shown losing her virginity; the shots are of faces only, but plenty of suggestive sounds. Still, for older teens, Heavenly Creatures is an imaginative and brilliant portrayal of a gruesome true-life crime from the director of The Lord of the Rings. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
HEAVENLY CREATURES is a frightening film. That's not because of the murder's aftermath shown at the beginning of the film or even the murder itself, but rather because of how innocent and seemingly like any other young teenage girl from any time or place Juliette and Pauline seem to be. Their Justin Bieber is Mario Lanza. They are emotional and overwrought about any and all drama that enters their lives. They argue with their parents. They are moody and mercurial in temperament. All of this makes their murder plot all the more terrifying, and makes Heavenly Creatures such a suspenseful and imaginative film.
Peter Jackson's directing is highly creative, weaving rich montages and sequences highlighting the frenetic imaginations of the two girls and creating a counterpoint to the girls' drab and repressed 1950's surroundings. The under- and overtones of sex and violence throughout don't exactly make this a "family film," but for adults and older teens, Heavenly Creatures is an unforgettable experience.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.