Watch It

On DVD: Now | On Blu-ray: Now

Heavenly Creatures Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 16 & under

Gruesome yet imaginative teen psychosexual drama.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Heavenly Creatures is based on a true story about two teenage girls in the 1950s who murder one of the girl's mothers. The murder scene is intense, graphic, and suspenseful -- way too much for tweens, most young teens, and any sensitive viewer. There is an air of budding sexuality throughout the film that is sometimes innocent, other times with hints of lesbian psychosexual drama. One of the teen characters is shown losing her virginity; the shots are of faces only, but plenty of suggestive sounds. Still, for older teens, Heavenly Creatures is an imaginative and brilliant portrayal of a gruesome true-life crime from the director of The Lord of the Rings.

  • Families can talk about how this film was inspired by a true crime. Lots of movies and television shows are inspired by true stories. What are the similarities and differences between Heavenly Creatures and other movies and television shows that draw on true stories?
  • What purpose do you think the dream montages and imaginative sequences serve? What would be lost if they weren't in the film?
  • How is the stodginess of 1950's New Zealand conveyed through place and character, and how does this contrast with the wild imaginations of Pauline and Juliette?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The film looks at friendship, fantasy, and obsession, as well as how repression can be acted out to an extreme.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: In some ways, Pauline and Juliette seem like any other teenage girls who are obsessed with a handsome singer, spend all their waking hours together, and rebel against the actions and rules of their parents. This makes their extreme actions all the scarier. Authority figures are strict and stodgy. Parents are often seen as clueless or befuddled by the actions of their children.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Two girls are shown running through and out of a forest, screaming and covered in blood; later a graphic murder scene is shown. Scenes of imagined swordfights with life-size clay figures are shown hacking and slicing; sometimes these clay figures are imagined by one of the girls to be attacking someone in real life, like when a psychologist is shown being stabbed through the chest with a sword.

  • sex false3

    Sex: A teen girl is shown losing her virginity, showing a neck-up shot of a man as he has sex with her. The two girls in the film are often shown in a tub together. While in the middle of imaginative play involving characters they have made up, the two characters strip down to their undergarments and briefly kiss on the cheeks. Questions are raised throughout the film, by parents and authority figures, as to whether or not the two girls are homosexuals.

  • language false0

    Language: Not applicable

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Set in the 1950's, some characters are shown smoking. Brief scenes of drinking at dinner, but no one is intoxicated.