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The Discovery of Heaven

A risible apocalyptic saga with terrific production values but zero sense of wonder, "The Discovery of Heaven" performed strongly in its native Holland and may find a few angels in fest purgatory, but will be turned away from the pearly gates of international theatrical and consigned to ancillary perdition.

With:
With: Stephen Fry, Greg Wise, Flora Montgomery, Diana Quick, Neil Newbon, Jeroen Krabbe.

A risible apocalyptic saga with terrific production values but zero sense of wonder, “The Discovery of Heaven” performed strongly in its native Holland and may find a few angels in fest purgatory, but will be turned away from the pearly gates of international theatrical and consigned to ancillary perdition.

Exasperated with humanity, God demands the Ten Commandments back. A technicality preventing seraphs from traveling to Earth prompts cherub Gabriel (helmer Jeroen Krabbe in full-bore glare mode) to manipulate history so that two pals (Stephen Fry, Greg Wise) hook up and procreate with comely cellist Ada (Flora Montgomery). After much globetrotting, Ada’s child (paternity unknown) grows to be the chosen one sent to nab the slabs. Pic was adapted from a 1993 Dutch novel of 900-plus pages, and moves at a wearisome dead run. As with “Left Luggage,” his directorial debut, actor-turned-helmer Krabbe directs with an oppressively heavy hand that leaches any wit or style out of the proceedings. Chemistry between real-life friends Fry and Wise plays as awkward and forced. Tech credits are dazzling on locations including Holland, Spain, Italy and Israel.

The Discovery of Heaven

Netherlands-U.K.

Production: A Mulholland Pictures, MeesPierson Film production. (International sales: Intermedia Films, London.) Produced by Ate de Jong. Directed by Jeroen Krabbe. Screenplay, Edwin de Vries, from the novel by Harry Mulisch.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Theo Bierkens; editor, Nigel Galt; music, Henny Vrienten; production designer, Benedict Schill Emans. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (Special Events),July 7, 2002. Running time: 127 MIN.

With: With: Stephen Fry, Greg Wise, Flora Montgomery, Diana Quick, Neil Newbon, Jeroen Krabbe.

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