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Heaven on Earth

2009-07-31 15:51

What the movie's about:

Chand (Preity Zinta), a vibrant young woman, arrives in Canada from India to marry a man (Vansh Bhardwaj) she has never met. The minute she gets off the plane in Toronto to meet her new husband, Rocky, her life turns into a nightmare. Rocky's coldness and horrific temper may be the primary causes of Chand's unhappiness, but he has numerous albeit often passive accomplices, most importantly his domineering mother. Desperate and unable to contact her family, Chand turns to a fellow factory worker, Rosa, who gives her a magical potion that will make whoever drinks it fall in love with Chand immediately.

What we thought:

Despite the presence of one of India's biggest movie stars, Heaven on Earth is not a Bollywood movie in the traditional sense. Think Monsoon Wedding with all the whimsy subtracted, or a much much bleaker version of Fiddler on the Roof.

The stunning Zinta puts in a luminous, subtly powerful performance as the aggrieved wife of a man who still has a lot of growing up to do. The scenes of domestic violence and emotional abuse will resonate with audiences the strongest, but there is a real poignancy here that serves only to make the more brutal scenes that much more difficult to watch.

Director Deepa Metha shows a fearlessness in her approach to tackling the taboo subject of arranged marriages in her Punjabi culture, and provides an often-startling perspective on the nature of family, identity and the significance of self-empowerment.

What might turn off some viewers is the film's sluggish pace as it tries to navigate Chand's marital struggles and the magical realism elements that are her escape from her hellish new world.

The movie is undoubtedly beautiful to look at, and while the emotional baggage it carries can be too heavy at times, it's worth exploring.

Chand, a vibrant young woman, arrives in Canada from India to marry a man she has never met.

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