Based on a real-life murder case that scandalised New Zealand in the '50s, Peter Jackson's movie marks a welcome change from the splatter of Bad Taste and Braindead. Rather than focus on the final act of violence, the film explores the overheated encounter between two teenagers: clever, cocky Juliet (Winslet), from a well-to-do English family, and pudgy, initially more introspective Pauline (Lynskey), a working-class girl. The pair's obsession with books, Mario Lanza, the fearsome Orson Welles and other 'saints' leads them to create their own 'Fourth World', a medieval fantasy involving royal romance and bloody intrigue; but when their parents decide that the friendship is 'wayward' and 'unhealthy', the girls' terror at the prospect of separation impels daydreams to invade reality, with deadly results. Jackson's film is distinguished by the intensity of the girls' secretive relationship. If the busy camera movements used to convey the heady exhilaration of their early encounters are irritating, the sense of claustrophobic immersion in private mysteries is palpable. Acted with conviction, and directed and written with febrile vibrancy.
Cast and crew