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Heaven Reviews

An intense, tricky, off-the-wall thriller with a gritty fairy tale touch from Scott Reynolds, the New Zealand-based writer-director of the stylish THE UGLY. Robert Marling (Martin Donovan) is a divorced architect with a world-class gambling problem. His embittered ex-wife Jennifer (Joanna Going) has had enough of him, and is preparing to sue for sole custody of their small son Sean (Michael Langley); she's also sleeping with Robert's sleazy psychiatrist, Melrose (Patrick Malahide), and has hired Robert's friend Wibber (Barry Spring) to represent her. Robert, in other words, is thoroughly screwed. He's also designing a strip club for his gambling buddy Stanner (Richard Schiff), who, unbeknownst to Robert, is planning to have his current place — Paradise — torched for the insurance money. Through Stanner, Robert meets Heaven (Danny Edwards), a transvestite stripper who has extremely accurate visions of the future. The first time Heaven sees Robert, she thanks him for saving her, though it later becomes clear that what Robert is going to save her from hasn't happened yet. Out of gratitude, she begins sharing visions with him; their contents complicate Robert's life enormously. You have to buy into quite a bit for this handsome, violent thriller to work, but if you're willing to go with it, it's pretty solidly entertaining. Reynold uses a fractured, PULP FICTION-like time structure that mixes flashbacks and flashforwards into the present-time action, often to deeply disturbing effect and generally without seriously muddling the flow of events. The film's performances are above average for a direct-to-video thriller, and the New Zealand setting (which you have to deduce from some — but not all — of the cast's accents and their cars' right-hand steering wheels) adds a vague touch of the exotic to the petty criminal milieu.