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Heaven

Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Robert Marling (Martin Donovan) is a man on the edge. Addicted to gambling, his architectural career in tatters, he's in the throes of a bitter divorce with his estranged wife Jennifer (Joanna Going) and at risk of losing his son in a custody battle.

Robert is steadily becoming more and more entangled in the seedy underworld that his gambling has led him to. The only job on the horizon is to re-design the Paradise Club for strip club owner and gambling buddy Stanner (Richard Schiff) to pay off his mounting debt. Robert's luck seems to be running thin when, one night at the club, he meets Heaven (Danny Edwards), an exotic dancer who is psychic. Heaven sees more that just lotto numbers in her visions. Her visions raise the stakes and their lives become inextricably linked.

Also starring Patrick Malahide as Melrose, Karl Urban as Sweeper, Michael Langley as Sean Marling, Jeremy Birchall as Tree and Clint Sharplin as Nicely. Based on the novel by Chad Taylor, directed by Scott Reynolds.

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Hmmm... psychic trannies, drug dealers, hookers, bouncers, bashings, messed-up psychiatrists... just another Saturday night on Oxford Street, really.

Where Heaven moves away from that seamy, sordid, stereotyped reality is in the cutting. About half way into the film you realise that what you are seeing is not necessarily what is happening. It might be the past, it might be the future: you'll have to work to get your head around that one (I struggled and I'm not even a temporally linear being).

There is also a problem with the accents. Ostensibly, Heaven is set in a non-specific city but the three of the leads are from the USA, one is from the UK, while the supporting and extra roles are filled by New Zealanders. It strikes me that there is something of a cultural cringe going on here, if not simply bad casting. These factors make Heaven a disjointed and difficult film to watch.

The thing that saves Heaven from inaccessibility is Danny's eponymous tranny: she is beautiful, sexy and strong, ruthless, cunning and wise. She steals the camera every time she comes on screen. The violence, and there's heaps, is full-on and hard-core, ranging from broken doors to broken faces to shotgun blasts to mind-trips. I am an aficionado of film violence so I was way pleased to see it being used so strongly and so well.

In the end, however, what you want to know is whether you will enjoy your night at the movies. The answer is "maybe". Heaven is a left-field flick which you've got to be in the right mood for; you need a brain, a taste for the seamy side of life and a stomach for blood, in which case, "it's gonna be a bumpy ride!"

Security censorship classification

R 18+ (Medium level violence)

Surveillance time

103 minutes (1:43 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

VHS rental: 2 December 1999

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