Heavenly Creatures

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(1994) ★★★★★

BBC2: Saturday 18 July, 12.35am

Christchurch schoolgirls Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet develop an obsessive friendship in 1950s New Zealand. Bizarre true-life story brilliantly recreated by Lord of the Rings maestro Peter Jackson who again displays – just as he did in his notorious comic horror Braindead – an unforced affinity with the era’s stuffy style and conservative customs. It’s a thrillingly cinematic work, put together with stunning assurance. Whether slipping into fantasy sequences or Mario Lanza serenades in a Claymation ‘Borovnia’, it’s staged with enormous brio. More importantly, it’s skilfully integrated with the comically observant narrative, providing poignant and terrifying insights into the intensity of delusional adolescent arrogance and alienation, in all its unfathomable mania and misery. “It’s all frightfully romantic!” exclaims Kate, early on. And it all works like a dream. Which makes the nightmare mess Jackson later made of The Lovely Bones all the more mystifying. Both young leads are exceptional in their big-screen debuts. Lynskey later recounted the excitement of making it: “I loved every second. I was like, ‘Oh God, making movies is amazing’. And then I went on to do all kinds of things and realize that not everyone is Peter Jackson.”

Certificate: 18

Duration: 109min