2 October 2011 | DICK STEEL
A Nutshell Review: A Little Bit of Heaven
What made this film a winner, is the appearance of Peter Dinklage, who recently picked up an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Game of Thrones, and whose character provided the name of this film, which of course puns on his physical size. Playing a social escort who got his services engaged for Kate Hudson's Marley Corbett, his support role was indeed one of the highlights of the film, coming in from the blue and serving up some great lines and moments, making a much welcomed lift for the story.
Which the trailer would have told you everything you needed to know from start to end, with Marley being a successful career woman who is climbing the corporate ladder with a zilch love life, but is soon cut down unfairly to size by Fate who had dealt her the disease hand. With cancer (colon, not very often mentioned on screen) treatment she meets her doctor Julian Goldstein (Gael Garcia Bernal) from Mexico, and tossing doctor-patient relationships out of the window, they spend an incredible amount of lovely time together even if both knows about their short lived romance should she choose to reject treatment, or if the disease would get the better of her. Whoopi Goldberg plays God, who grants her three wishes, two of which were used rather carelessly, though of no fault of the bubbly one given initial skepticism.
This film was ballsy in a number of ways, chief of which is in its treatment of a story about death without shirking from the nasty details of anticipation, and the inevitable execution. Many Hollywood films tend to cop out at the very last minute, but this one tackled it with a lot of dignity, and proved that one doesn't have to always compromise to do what gets reflected in real life. That, and Kate Hudson showing a lot of nerve in many scenes almost sans makeup, looking quite ghastly and pale as the story called for it. Written by Gren Wells, it's more about how one should approach life when given a death sentence, with the romance angle taking a back seat despite marketeers' efforts to skew this into a romantic comedy.
Which is not surprising since it's a film helmed by Nicole Kassell, whose previous film was the dark and brooding The Woodsman starring Kevin Bacon. A Little Bit of Heaven does steer toward a darker feel, although with some light at the end of the tunnel through overcoming challenges in difficult family relationships, and the maintaining of both established ones with good friends, and new romantic ones formed. Kate Hudson may be typecast for roles that may involve the devil may care attitude, and this one provides that opportunity for her to show off a little bit of dramatic acting chops. Gael Garcia Bernal though was relatively bland given his Doctor role, although does get some of the best lines in flubbing many jokes when the script called for it. Both leads share a nice chemistry although most of their romancing were reduced to a montage, leaving room for more of Kate Hudson and Kathy Bates to share some mother-daughter time, and that between Hudson and Lucy Punch playing her best friend and one of many close confidantes.
And in some ways this film made me think a little bit more about mortality, if one were to be struck by a serious illness which was detected late and the treatment really being a bitch, would you want to go ahead with trying to get cured, or to live whatever is left to the fullest? My choice will likely be the latter, although why not make the best of life with each day instead?