Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
United Kingdom/Germany/New Zealand, 1994. WingNut Films, Fontana Productions, New Zealand Film Commission. Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson. Cinematography by Alun Bollinger. Produced by Jim Booth. Music by Peter Dasent. Production Design by Grant Major. Costume Design by Ngila Dickson. Film Editing by Jamie Selkirk. Academy Awards 1994. National Board of Review Awards 1994.
Awe-inspiring thriller from New Zealand tells the true-life story of two schoolgirls who committed murder in order not to be separated. When lonely Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) meets new student Juliet (Kate Winslet making an astonishing film debut), the two hit it off and end up becoming inseparable friends; it’s not long before they’re doing everything together, including spending all their time coming up with imaginary characters and stories of their own design that they play out until the line between reality and fiction seems to blur. Their parents start to believe that their relationship might not be healthy considering how close they are; when Juliet’s parents decide that they are moving to another country, Pauline insists that she is going with them, but her parents object and won’t allow her. To avoid being kept apart, the two young ladies come up with an incredibly dark plan to murder Pauline’s mother. Peter Jackson’s brilliant direction creates a beautiful insider’s view into the minds of these off-kilter young ladies, never excusing their terrible crime but trying to provide a little insight into what led them down that particular path of reasoning. It is a viscerally exciting film, full of inventive visual flair and excellent dialogue, topped off by fantastic performances from all, including Sarah Peirse as the eventual victim. Juliet (Winslet’s character) ended up becoming a highly successful detective novelist under the name Anne Perry.