Heaven review

The last screenplay completed by Krzysztof Piesiewicz and the legendary Polish writer-director Krzysztof Kieslowski (the Three Colours trilogy) before the latter's death in 1996, Heaven is the first part of a trilogy that will include Hell and Purgatory. On megaphone duties is German wünderkind Tom "Run Lola Run" Tykwer, who has watered down his visual pyrotechnics but continued his fascination with Fate - also a pet topic of Kieslowski.

The drama opens as schoolteacher Philippa (Cate Blanchett) plants a bomb in the office of a heroin dealer posing as a legit businessman. A trick of destiny (see!) leads to the intended victim's escape, while four innocents, including two children, go up in smoke. Philippa's apprehended and questioned, but it's during these sessions that she catches the sympathetic eye of young policeman Filippo (Giovanni Ribisi)...

Tykwer does a solidly professional job of shooting Kieslowski's solemn scribblings. True, he's much more comfortable with the taut realism of the earlier scenes than the metaphysical grapplings of the final third, but then few directors other than Kieslowski and Ingmar Bergman can believably invest images with such spiritual and emotional heft.

What Heaven does possess is terrific performances, with Blanchett typically excellent and a soulful Ribisi a revelation. Factor in Frank Griebe's divine cinematography and you have a flawed but worthy legacy to one of modern cinema's greatest filmmakers.

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