Review: ‘Heaven, Hell… Earth’

A comely ballerina has a passionate but painful affair with a mysterious older physician.

A comely ballerina has a passionate but painful affair with a mysterious older physician in contempo melodrama “Heaven, Hell … Earth,” the second feature by Slovak writer-director Laura Sivakova (“Quartetto”). This mostly compelling tale of a young woman coming to grips with her love life, career options and dysfunctional family plays more like “The Red Shoe Diaries” than “The Red Shoes,” as the genre-savvy helmer tips her hat to romantic thrillers from “Jane Eyre” to “Fatal Attraction.” Commercial fare on home turf, where it is still in theaters, the pic could attract fests and Euro tube sales.

Leggy leading dancer Klara (Zuzana Kanocz) loses confidence when she’s dumped by her sleazy boyfriend and badly sprains her ankle. Vulnerable and without a place to live, she accepts an offer from Rudolph (Bronislaw Wroclawski), a charismatic doctor her father’s age, to look after Rudolph’s young daughter at their remote suburban home. The helmer uses repeated images of nude Klara, coiled in the fetal position underwater and unable to swim to the surface, to express her feelings of emotional and professional frustration. Lush lensing and atmospheric score lead the seductive craft package.

Heaven, Hell... Earth



A Continental Film release of a Trigon production, in association with Slovak TV, Czech TV, with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic. (International sales: Film Europe, Prague.) Produced by Patrik Pass. Co-producers, Vladimir Bednar, Jaroslav Kucera, Jozef Mico. Directed, written by Laura Sivakova.


Camera (color), Peter Kelisek, Martin Ziaran; editor, Barbora Passova; music, Oskar Rozsa; production designer, Pavol Andrasko. Reviewed on DVD, Chicago, June 23, 2009. (In Cannes Film Festival -- market.) Original title: Nebo, peklo … zem. Slovak, English dialogue. Running time: 95 MIN.


Zuzana Kanocz, Bronislaw Wroclawski, Jiri Korn, Dagmar Blahova, Helena Polakova, Dagmar Edwards, Lukas Latinak, Ivan Martinka.

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