I watched the friendship of the girls develop, I couldnt help
but empathize with Pauline; she was awkward, unpopular, dark, shy,
and bookish. Juliet was the perfect foil to Pauline an attractive,
bright, effervescent, outspoken transfer student from England. In
each other they found a sympathetic soul, and a common bond. Both
had suffered from serious childhood illnesses Pauline from
osteomyletis, Juliet from tuberculosis which had left them
emotionally and physically damaged. As Juliet told Pauline, "All
of the best people have scars!"
two grew inseparable, making up fantastical stories about Deborah
and Charles, the king and queen of their make-believe world of Borovnia,
listening to Mario Lanza records, sharing baths in the afternoon.
The stronger their friendship became, the more the girls retreated
in to their fantasy world, until they hardly knew the difference
between reality and fantasy.
have been Pauline Parker. Hell, I had been Pauline, at least
for a little while in high school. My Juliet was named Suzanne,
and how I worshipped her! We were inseparable at school, on the
phone with each other constantly in the evenings, and even wrote
poetry to one another. Suzanne was wild where I was meek, outrageous
where I was reserved, and she oozed sexuality. She was unlike anyone
I had known before in my sheltered private school life. She was
my first real crush. I understood Pauline because I knew what she
was feeling. The biggest difference was that I wasnt completely
insane, which Pauline turned out to be.
I sat in the theater, watching my own adolescence unfold on the
screen. Well, except for the murder part. Oh, and the bath sharing.
Leaving the theater, I had this unshakable feeling of great distress,
but I couldnt put my finger on the cause. That was something
that would take me another three months of depression to figure
out. It is, in fact, entirely possible that this movie made me reflect
enough on my relationships with other women to realize that maybe
there was something more than friendship happening for me. I didnt
think about that six years ago, but on my second viewing of Heavenly
Creatures, it seemed pretty clear.
what about the murder and all that? I never found that to be the
most compelling aspect of the movie. For me, Heavenly Creatures
will always be about the relationship between Pauline and Juliet.
In a bizarre way, it was the only possible outcome given the circumstances.
If I, as a fairly sane fifteen year old girl, could let my GPA slip
from a 3.8 in the fall to a 2.9 in the spring on account of my friendship
with Suzanne, then it does stand to reason that two girls could,
given the right situation, see murder as the only means by which
their friendship could continue. Crushes are funny that way. We
let them blindside us in a way that nothing else, not even love,
can. Crushes are as close to madness as many of us will ever get.
really thought about the nature of crushes until I saw Heavenly
Creatures a second time. I have done strange things when under the
influence of a crush. Nothing especially illegal, mind you, and
certainly not murder, just things that were out of character for
me. It was as though I couldnt help myself, and agreed to
do things that I would otherwise avoid. In high school, I was Suzannes
loyal sidekick, even if it meant hanging out with her gross boyfriend-of-the-hour.
She would get in trouble for kissing boys during lunch hour (we
went to a Catholic school), but even that didnt stop me from
following her everywhere.
not Catholic, I wasnt raised in a religion, and I was never
baptized. Hell, mass is one of the most boring things in the world,
if you ask me. Yet I used to attend Friday mass with Suzanne just
so I could hold her hand during the Our Father. Never mind that
everyone held hands for that part of the mass; to me it was
special. At that time in my life, I would have done nearly anything
to get Suzannes attention. Ultimately, my crush ended on the
day that she and her boyfriend, and one of his rowdier friends,
wanted to go get drunk in a park then drive around. That was too
much for me, and I got out of the car. Suzannes bizarre power
over me had been broken, and none too soon. My grades improved,
I wasnt on the phone all the time, and I was less depressed.
are extreme in a way that love doesnt seem to be. Sure, love
can make people do crazy things from time to time, but I have to
wonder if it is love or obsession that leads to such actions. In
five years with my partner, I have never had to do anything extreme
to prove my love or to get her attention. But within five minutes
of being around someone I have a crush on, I find myself agreeing
to go out on the town and coming home drunk, or going to events
and parties that I would ordinarily avoid. No matter how old I am,
nor how happy in my relationship, there always seem to be people
who enter my life and compel me, even for a little while, to be
extreme. Every time it happens, I am surprised.