Heaven (2002 film)

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Heaven (2002 movie) poster.jpg
Directed by Tom Tykwer
Produced by Stefan Arndt
William Horberg
Written by Krzysztof Kieślowski
Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Starring Cate Blanchett
Giovanni Ribisi
Cinematography Frank Griebe
Edited by Mathilde Bonnefoy
Distributed by Miramax Films (USA)
Release dates
6 February 2002
Running time
96 minutes
Language English
Budget US$11,000,000

Heaven is a 2002 thriller film directed by Tom Tykwer, starring Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi. Co-screenwriter Krzysztof Kieślowski intended for it to be the first part of a trilogy (the second being Hell and the third having been slated to be titled Purgatory), but Kieślowski died before he could complete the project. The dialogue is mixed between Italian and English.


The film is set in Turin, Italy. It opens with a prologue sequence showing the young Italian Carabinieri clerk Filippo (Ribisi) learning to fly a helicopter using a flight simulator. When he accidentally crashes the virtual helicopter by ascending too dramatically, his instructor tells him, "In a real helicopter, you can't just keep going up and up," prompting Filippo to ask, "How high can you go?"

The film then cuts to Phillipa (Blanchett), who is preparing to plant a bomb in the downtown office of a high-ranking businessman. Although everything goes according to her plan, the garbage bin in which she places the bomb is emptied by a cleaner immediately after she leaves and later explodes in an elevator, killing four people.

Philippa is tracked down by the Carabinieri, arrested, and brought to the station where Filippo works. When she is questioned, she reveals that she is an English teacher at a local school where several students have recently died of drug-related causes. Discovering that they had all been supplied by the same local cartel, she had contacted the Carabinieri with the names of the drug ring leaders, begging them to intervene, but was repeatedly ignored.

At her wits' end, she decided to kill the leader of the cartel, the businessman whose office she targeted. In the process of her interrogation, Filippo (who is translating her confession for his superiors) falls in love with Philippa and helps her escape from Carabinieri custody. After she kills the drug lord who was her original target, the pair become fugitives from the law and flee to the countryside, where they eventually find refuge with one of Philippa's friends and finally consummate their relationship.

When the authorities raid the house where they are hiding, the fugitives steal a Carabinieri helicopter parked on the front lawn and escape by air. The officers on the ground fire repeatedly at them, to no avail, as the craft climbs higher and higher and finally disappears.


Critical reception[edit]

Though comparisons abound to Kieślowski's earlier films, Roger Ebert also sees a similarity to Tykwer's Run Lola Run and The Princess and the Warrior. Though Heaven is "more thoughtful, proceeds more deliberately, than the mercurial haste" of Tykwer's films, "it contains the same sort of defiant romanticism, in which a courageous woman tries to alter her fate by sheer willpower."[1]

Alex Grant finds the film to be "a homage to Italian painters of the C16th and C17th. European architecture has seldom played such a huge role in defining character and human interaction as Tykwer allows it to do here. Beings dwarfed and trapped by spaces both interior and exterior."[2]


  1. ^ Roger Ebert (18 October 2002). "Heaven". suntimes.com. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "hackwriters.com -Heaven - Tom Tykwer - Review by Alex Grant". hackwriters.com. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 

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