Just like Heaven (film)
|Just Like Heaven|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mark Waters|
|Produced by||Walter F. Parkes|
|Based on||If Only It Were True|
by Marc Levy
|Music by||Rolfe Kent|
|Edited by||Bruce Green|
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Pictures|
|Box office||$102.8 million|
Just Like Heaven is a 2005 American romantic comedy fantasy film directed by Mark Waters, starring Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo, and Jon Heder. It is based on the French novel If Only It Were True (Et si c'était vrai...) written by Marc Levy.
Elizabeth Masterson (Reese Witherspoon), a young emergency medicine physician whose work is her whole life, is in a serious car accident while on her way to a blind date. Three months later, David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo), a landscape architect recovering from the sudden death of his wife, moves into the apartment that had been Elizabeth's, after 'discovering' it in what seems to be a fateful happenstance.
Elizabeth's spirit begins to appear to David in the apartment with ghostly properties and abilities that make it clear that something is not right. She can suddenly appear and disappear, walk or move through walls and objects, and once takes over his actions. When they meet, they are both surprised, as Elizabeth is still unaware of her recent history and refuses to think she is dead. David tries to have her spirit exorcised from the apartment, but to no avail. Since only David can see and hear her, others think that he is hallucinating, getting back into his alcoholism, and talking to himself.
David and Elizabeth begin to bond, as much as that is possible, and he takes her out of town to a beautiful landscaped garden he designed. Elizabeth tells him she senses she has been there before, and in fact, the garden was something she was dreaming of in the opening scenes of the film, where she was awakened by a colleague from cat-napping after working a 23-hour shift in the hospital.
Together, assisted by a psychic bookstore clerk, Darryl (Jon Heder), Elizabeth and David find out who she is, what happened to her, and why they are connected. She is not dead, but in a coma, her body being kept on life support at the hospital where she used to work. When David discovers that in accordance with her living will, she will soon be allowed to die, he tries to prevent this by telling Elizabeth's sister, Abby (Dina Waters), that he can see her and what the situation involves. One of Elizabeth's young nieces is revealed to be able to sense her presence as well.
Abby thinks David is mentally disturbed and drives him out of her house. Desperate, David decides to prevent Elizabeth's death by stealing her from the hospital. He asks his friend/therapist Jack (Donal Logue) to help him, and Jack is found to be Abby's former college boyfriend who had set up a blind date for David with Elizabeth on the night of the accident - the reason David can see Elizabeth is that they were meant to meet. He then admits to Jack and Elizabeth that he loves her and that is the reason he does not want her to die; he has gotten past the death of his wife. While stealing Elizabeth, they are quickly discovered in the hospital. The security guards find them, pulling Jack away from Elizabeth, but when he is grabbed, her breathing tube is removed. David gets away from the guards a bit longer, but Elizabeth is now dying. David frantically kisses the dying Elizabeth, breathing some air into her lungs, while her spirit begins to fade away. Then, amazingly, her heartbeat returns and she miraculously awakens from the coma. However, the recovered Elizabeth does not remember anything that happened during the coma or any of the events with David, who leaves the hospital in sadness.
Sometime later, Elizabeth goes back to her apartment. She is drawn up to the roof of the building, which has been transformed into a beautiful landscaped garden. She finds David there, who has gotten in with a spare key Elizabeth's spirit had shown him. Just as he is about to leave, she asks for her key back. When their hands touch, her memory of the events during her coma are restored, and they kiss.
The final scene fades away from the rooftop to show Darryl staring into a snow globe.
- Reese Witherspoon as Dr. Elizabeth Masterson
- Mark Ruffalo as David Abbott
- Ivana Miličević as Katrina
- Jon Heder as Darryl
- Donal Logue as Jack
- Dina Waters as Abby Brody
- Rosalind Chao as Dr. Fran Lo
- Ben Shenkman as Dr. Brett Rushton
- Joel McKinnon Miller as Lead Ghostbuster
- Caroline Aaron as Grace
- Kerris Dorsey as Zoe Brody
- Alyssa Shafer as Lily Brody
- Willie Garson as Maitre D'
The film holds a 55% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 151 reviews, with an average rating of 5.62/10. The consensus reads, "Delightfully sweet like a lollipop, Just Like Heaven is a dreamy romantic comedy that may give you a toothache when it attempts to broach difficult end of life issues by throwing a cherry on top." However, the most prominent critics – such as Roger Ebert, Richard Roeper, and A. O. Scott – gave it favorable reviews; they all agreed that the plot had logical flaws that were somewhat overcome by good dialogue and characterization.
The performances of Witherspoon, Ruffalo, and Heder were all generally well received. Heder's appearance helped to debunk an urban legend that the actor had died shortly after filming Napoleon Dynamite.
The DVD release in February 2006 was given unusually strong promotional publicity.
The title of this film is also that of a popular 1987 song, "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure. Singer Katie Melua recorded a cover version of the song for the soundtrack of the film. Melua's version is played over the opening titles, and has lines such as "she said" changed to "he said" to maintain a heterosexual narrative. The original version by The Cure, as well as the remainder of Melua's version, are played over the closing credits.
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