COLD HEAVEN (director: Nicolas Roeg; screenwriter: from the novel by Brian Moore/Allan Scott; cinematographer: Francis Kelly; editor: Tony Lawson; music: Stanley Myers; cast: Theresa Russell (Maria Davenport), Mark Harmon (Dr. Alex Davenport), James Russo (Dr. Daniel Corvin), Talia Shire (Sister Martha), Richard Bradford (Monsignor Cassidy), Will Patton (Father Niles), Julie Carmen (Anna Corvin), Seymour Cassel (Tom Farrelly); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Allan Scott/Jonathan Crane; Hemdale Home Video; 1991)
“The ambitious film doesn’t always make sense or make things clear or have a convincing ending to its mystery, but is always intelligently handled, well-acted, emotionally charged and provocative.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Brian Moore’s book has been freely adapted for the screen by Allan Scott. Director Nicolas Roeg (“Two Deaths”/”Eureka”/”Performance”) helms a tense film that blends into a psychological thriller, a melodrama about adultery, a guilt-trip for a lapsed Catholic and a mystical film about troubling visions over possible demonic possession. The ambitious film doesn’t always make sense or make things clear or have a convincing ending to its mystery, but is always intelligently handled, well-acted, emotionally charged and provocative.
Thirty-something LA couple, Maria Davenport (Theresa Russell) and her pathologist hubby Dr. Alex Davenport (Mark Harmon), are on a business/holiday in Acapulco, Mexico, when a boat rams into him while he’s swimming and leaves him for dead. The grief-stricken wife sulks because she didn’t have the nerve to tell him that she was leaving him for fellow married doctor Daniel Corvin (James Russo).
Things turn increasingly odd when her hubby’s corpse disappears before the local hospital conducts an autopsy. Returning to LA, a crestfallen Maria, an atheist, has some self-doubts about a recent vision she had of the Virgin Mary telling her to rebuilt her sanctuary. When her dead hubby turns up alive in a motel she’s staying at that is near San Francisco and a Carmelite convent, the confused adulteress must get help from Sister Martha (Talia Shire), Monsignor Cassidy (Richard Bradford) and Father Niles (Will Patton). Afraid of what she has seen, Maria gets their religious interpretation of her vision. The Carmelites believe her visions have seemingly resulted in the miraculous resurrection of her hubby.
I was less impressed by the incredulous story, one that must be accepted as a matter of faith, than by the way Roeg kept such an action-less pic’s disturbing pretensions dazzling and thought-provoking throughout.
REVIEWED ON 7/24/2012 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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