One of Peter Jackson's earliest films (before he was better known for turning the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy into a cinematic epic), Heavenly Creatures recounts the bizarre, true-life tale of Juliet Hulme (Kate Winslet) and Pauline Rieper (Melanie Lynskey); two teens who were convicted of brutally murdering Rieper’s mother in a scandalous 1954 court case. It’s a startling, original work, blending fantasy, dark humor and history in its disturbing view of dysfunctional family life and overheated schoolgirl passion. A tabloid headline-grabber during the mid-fifties, the case recently gained renewed notoriety upon the release from prison of one of its protagonists, who was subsequently revealed to be the author of several well-known books written under a pseudonym.
Opening with the panicked aftermath of the killing itself, the film soon segues into the fast-blossoming friendship between morose schoolgirl Pauline and an imperious English newcomer to the school, Juliet. While on the surface the girls are from different social strata, they share a zeal for Arthurian legend and a disdain for all who surround them. As their friendship quickly spirals into a kind of pathological attachment, the fantasy realm they have constructed begins to inform their everyday reality, binding them closer and closer together in the process. When their concerned parents step in, threatening to permanently separate the girls, the stage is set for a lethal denouement.