Director: Nicole Kassell
Starring: Kate Hudson, Gael García Bernal
Runtime: 107 Minutes
This film is showing in York at Reel cinema. Click here for more information.
In Nicole Kassell’s film A Little Bit of Heaven, Kate Hudson plays Marley, a boho-chic ad-exec who is respectable yet free, a beloved friend with a bit of a foul mouth: yes, she’s everything to everybody, which is just a bit saccharin, and she soon learns that she has late-stage colon cancer and that the fight for survival is on.
Gael García Bernal plays the romantic lead, Marley’s doctor-come-lover who, logically, must only be an ethics tribunal away from losing his job. He’s jolly attractive, yes, but what might be confused for his character being endearingly naff at all the fuzzy romantic stuff at the beginning of the film just looks like bad casting by the end of it. Bernal’s character accuses Marley of talking much and saying little and A Little Bit of Heaven does the same really. If the film does have a pro-‘living life to the fullest’ message then it gets lost somewhere along the way.
Hudson is often compared to her mother Goldie Hawn and it’s easy to see why. She shares Hawn’s smart comic delivery but frankly lacks her class and finesse: there are moments in the film that she really overacts. Kathy Bates, as Hudson’s on-screen mother, does a much subtler and better job, and even though her role in the film is painfully typical mother-daughter conflict crap, she at least does it well. Also in a noteworthy performance is British comic actress Lucy Punch, who plays Arty Best Friend Sarah, who should absolutely not be confused with fellow characters Gay Best Friend or Uptight Best Friend.
It’s one of those films that had me worried that Hudson’s character would find a magic, cure-all trial that would save her; I’m willing to suspend my disbelief for House, but not this. So to be perfectly honest throughout most of the film I really did hope that she would indeed die, just so Hollywood wouldn’t win.
I don’t want to say that the film was cathartic; it’s such a horrible cliché as well as, let’s face it, a blatant euphemism to say that I cried at this film. But it was kind of cathartic. I went to this film presuming I’d hate it, wanting to hate it. But it won me round, sort of.
Its writing is riddled with the clichés of tragic-comedy-romantic-dramas – obligatory montage sequences of people looking happy and the like – and the film is laden down with characters and sub-plots, all jostling for our attention. Yet there are little moments of redemption in this film that made it somewhat enjoyable. Be warned however, if you see this film then you will likely leave the cinema desirous to let everyone you love (or even just barely know) how much they mean to you.