Few scenes, from any film I've ever watched, make me as angry as those leading up to the murder of Honora Parker Rieper (Sarah Peirse) at the end of Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures. Honora is the mother of Pauline Parker (Melanie Lynskey), and it is Pauline, along with her special friend Juliet Hulme (Kate Winslet), who will commit the murder.
They're having a day out, the three of them. Months of deep, familial strain are easing off Honora's shoulders as she enjoys her day with her daughter. This big day includes a bus ride, which pauses at one point so the passengers can refresh, and get something to eat. Honora, her daughter, and Juliet go to a cafe, and eat from a trey of little cakes. Honora is enjoying them very much, but isn't sure she should eat more, due to a conflicting desire to watch her weight. Juliet and Pauline urge her to treat herself, because they know that her waistline could not be more irrelevant. Honora doesn't need to worry about that, or anything, anymore, because this day, that Honora has been smiling and laughing through, jubilant over finally feeling some affection from her daughter again, has been planned by the two young girls as the day that Honora will die. Which she does, by their hands. The murder itself is awful, because Jackson gets across not only Honora's fear and pain, but her confusion, as well, which is a state of mind that in some contexts can be the saddest thing in the world.
What makes me so angry about this murder, more than pretty much any other murder I've seen in a film, is that these two monstrous girls, Pauline in particular, don't know what they're throwing away with this imperfect but still good-hearted woman whose skull they're going to crush with stones. And they don't realize how deeply cruel the kindness they think they're showing Honora in her final moments really is. The bone-deep selfishness, if that word is even anywhere strong enough, of Pauline and Juliet is breathtaking.
I hate watching these scenes so much that I rarely want to watch Heavenly Creatures at all, as great a film as I think it is. It is, in my view, the best film Peter Jackson has ever made that isn't Lord of the Rings. I just can't bear watching that poor woman end her days like that.
Hell of a post as a lead-up to Mother's Day, isn't it? Well, I'll try to lighten things up by then.