A Little Trip to Heaven

Yesterday I spent a fair amount of time in front of the tube while eating burritos made with sweet Italian sausage and drinking Sierra Mist. What a day!

What did I watch, you ask? Well, an indie movie titled A Little Trip to Heaven and the last 2 episodes of Season 5 of 24 and the first double episode of Season 6 of 24. I was very impressed with the writing of Season 5. I thought it was easily the most cohesive and well thought out of the 5 seasons I've watched so far. Season 6, on the other hand, isn't starting out very well. It's still quite interesting--don't get me wrong--but when the first episode already has huge credibility gaps you really have to wonder about the rest of the season. Of course since the last episode airs tonight --another double episode--I guess I can spend the rest of the week catching up and hoping that the writing improves during the course of the season. I've got 2 or 3 episodes missing but most were recorded.

A Little Trip to Heaven is a difficult movie to review. To start, let me say I really liked the movie but due to some problems I'm reluctant to recommend it to others.

The noir tone of this small budget indie movie, purportedly located in northern Minnesota though actually filmed in Iceland, is nearly unrelenting. The only bright notes are a few flashbacks and a commercial for an insurance company that pops up several times in the film. But this is a good thing. The gray tones that predominate this film are beautiful and the cinematography is quite excellent. And man does it ever rain a lot!

I also really enjoyed the performances in the film. Forest Whitaker and Julia Stiles really stand out though the best performance is probably by Jeremy Renner. Looking over the reviews of this movie out on the Internet, I see they're mostly negative and the most common complaint is that the plot is confusing. Well, there are a number of plot twists but they seemed pretty easy to follow for me. I would agree though that some of the characters, especially of Forest Whitaker's character, an insurance investigator, need to be fleshed out more. As is, you don't empathize enough with the characters to make the last third of the film meaningful. And the worst problem is that the end of the movie just isn't consistent with the tone of the movie and kinda sucks.

Despite that, I really liked the movie and would watch it again. Here's the precis of the movie, garnered from Amazon.com:

Moody dialogue, drab lighting, and characters who aren't quite who they say they are pepper the indie film A Little Trip To Heaven. Starring Forest Whitaker as Holt (an insurance investigator looking into a man's suspicious death), and Julia Stiles as Isolde (the frightened and sketchy sister of the deceased), A Little Trip's destination actually is closer to hell than heaven. Unevenly portrayed and not well-fleshed out, not one of the characters is sympathetic. Isolde's brute of a husband is the prime suspect, but Holt--who in a different film would be the story's hero--isn't exactly a saint either. There's a particularly creepy scene where he's little more than a peeping Tom, justifying his perversion as doing what's necessary to get his job done. As shown in films such as Half Nelson and Sherrybaby, imperfect characters can make for compelling filmmaking. The problem with A Little Trip To Heaven is that we want to root for someone--anyone--but there's just no one who's worthy of our interest. --Jae-Ha Kim

I would argue that the "creepy scene" referred to above was consistent. Holt's job involved disallowing (is that a word?) insurance claims and pursuant to that goal he would skulk around and take video or pictures of suspicious behavior. That kinda requires a little peeping, y'know?

I do think Holt plays a strong and sympathetic role here in this film but his character needed a few flashbacks to firmly establish his social isolation. As is, you just don't understand why he does what he does at the end of the movie. Oh, well... and if you want to think about the film a bit more, due to a few supposedly short term deceptions, the couple that Holt is investigating are really living in Hell. It's a film that can linger in your mind...

I also loved seeing the names of the extras and many of the behind-the-scenes folk on the film. They all have last names like mine! Folk like Felix Eyjólfsson and Margrét Ólafsdóttir illustrate names frozen in time. Christianity made names like this permanent but at one time they were descriptive. Daughter of Olaf and son of Eyjolf. Neat.


Bob-kat said…
That sounds like a relaxing way to spend some time. I stopped watching 24 after the third series but I think I'll check out 4 and 5 after what you have said.
kenju said…
I always liked those Scandinavian names with dottir and son on the ends. It is very descriptive and makes life easy, I guess. Of course, if a whole town is populated with them, you might have some duplications! LOL
SassyAssy said…
Sorry I have been a bad blogger friend...I will try to do better. sounds like a restful day watching movies, eating yummer food! I so like your reviews.

Comment about May....the stockmarket will rebound...just remember that and if it doesn't I have a great accounting firm you could invest in that is going to do incredibly well.

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