Cold Heaven

(Nicolas Roeg, USA, 1990)


Nicolas Roeg’s Cold Heaven, little seen anywhere in the world since its completion in 1990, is a certified oddball experience. It is adapted from a novel by Brian Moore, whose Black Robe (1991) – also an essay on religious and spiritual themes – was filmed by Bruce Beresford.

It is sad to see Roeg dimly plagiarising his former triumphs (especially Don’t Look Now, 1973) in this fragmented tale of an adulterous woman alternating between mystical visions, soul-searching dialogues with her undead husband (Mark Harmon), stream-of-consciousness voice-over ravings, and sweaty trysts with her lover (James Russo).

Years ago Roeg’s keen interest in mental processes and parallel universes seemed compelling, largely because his cinematic style was so fresh and innovative. Now his trademark touches – chaotic editing, patchwork casting, reflexive irony – come over like David Lynch on a bad day.

Still, watch out for Will Patton – it’s hard to forget him ascending serenely skywards in The Rapture (1991) – as a priest whose final, unctuous sermon sorts out all mysteries on earth as in heaven.

MORE Roeg: The Man Who Fell To Earth

© Adrian Martin January 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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