MADE IN HEAVEN
Made in Heaven is a beautifully crafted film the 1950s scenes are photographed in stunningly textured black-and-white. The drift through the 1960s and 70s is conducted in a lovely series of intercut tableaux (even if the sight of Timothy Hutton in sideburns seems a little hard to swallow). Best of all are the Heaven scenes, shot in impossibly real autumnal colours with the dialogue recorded in a echo-damping chamber. These afterlife scenes are filled with wonderfully incongruous and surreal touches that nonchalantly sit in the background of a couple dancing in mid-air, conversations that takes place on a park bench drifting in mid-air across a lake, of Kelly McGillis going to sleep floating above a bed of red roses. The film opens with the charming penned title This story might be true. You might even know some of the people.
Made in Heaven was directed by Alan Rudolph, who made acclaimed films such as Trouble in Mind (1986), Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle (1995), Afterglow (1997) and Breakfast of Champions (1999). The script comes from the writing and occasionally directing team of Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon who wrote John Carpenters Starman (1984), the much-loved Coming of Age drama Stand By Me (1986) and later the fine serial killer film Mr. Brooks (2007). Alas, Made in Heaven was not a big success at the box-office.
Alan Rudolph fills the film out with an amazing cast, including cameos from rockers Tom Petty, Neil Young and Ric Ocasek and author Tom Robbins. Ellen Barkin and Timothy Huttons then real-life wife Debra Winger turn up, although are only billed by the names of their characters. Debra Winger is virtually unrecognisable (in drag, wearing a scruffy pinstripe and her hair punk-styled and dyed orange). While both Timothy Hutton and Kelly McGillis seem a little stiff at playing the real world scenes once they leave Heaven, at least Debra Winger succeeds in being remarkably affecting in a performance of distracting twitchiness and remarkable scruffiness.
The latter half of the film plays the interweavings of the two characters fates and the ironies of them nearly meeting or bumping into characters from their previous lives charmingly. It is only in the end that Made in Heaven seems slight where it is eventually seen that the plot consists of no more than a series of tableaux about the two characters fates and that it has no dramatic payoff other than an abrupt ending.
Director Alan Rudolph became a well-known mainstream director with films like Roadie (1980) through Choose Me (1984) to the likes of Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle (1995) and Afterglow (1997). Rudolph has made a number of ventures around the edges of genre cinema. His first film was the obscure Premonition (1972) about students who take a drug that creates precognitive visions, followed by the gory psycho film Barn of the Naked Dead/Terror Circus/Nightmare Circus (1973). He then made Endangered Species (1982) about the cattle mutilation phenomenon, the duo of quasi-futuristic film noir thrillers, Trouble in Mind (1986) and Equinox (1992), and the Kurt Vonnegut adaptation Breakfast of Champions (1999).