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Friday, October 25, 2002

Ron Weiskind, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

"Heaven" begins with Philippa (Cate Blanchett), an Englishwoman living in Italy, planting a bomb in a wastebasket of the office of the man she considers responsible for her husband's death.

Things don't go as planned, but the police arrest her as a terrorist and, given the fateful consequences of her action and the current state of the world, it's hard to disagree. But the long arm of the law has dirt of a different sort on its hand. Filippo (Giovanni Ribisi), a young policeman, finds himself drawn to this woman who becomes distraught and even contrite (to a degree) upon hearing how her plan literally misfired.

The film's title points us in the obvious direction of a redemption theme, but "Heaven" follows a rather oblique path toward its goal. The similarity in the names of the lawman and the lady offers a clue to the film's clumsy metaphysical ending. In the meantime, the movie bestows forgiveness on its protagonist even though she demands punishment for her crime but never receives it.

Tom Tykwer ("Run, Lola, Run") directed the film but didn't write it -- a first for him. The script is by the late Krzystof Kieslowski, the filmmaker best known for the "Red" "White" and "Blue" trilogy. The movie contains some of Tykwer's trademark themes regarding fate and chance, but he seems out of his depth fleshing out whatever religious analogy Kieslowski had in mind. In other words, "Heaven" remains elusive.

R for a scene of sexuality. Squirrel Hill Theater.

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