Heaven On Earth Deepa Mehta

Heaven On Earth Deepa Mehta
For the first 45-minutes, Heaven on Earth seems to be a nearly flawless film, examining the confusion and anguish of domestic violence, as well as the sense of isolation that some immigrants feel when leaving a land of familiarity for Western dreams. We see Chand (Bollywood superstar Preity Zinta) say goodbye to her family in India for an arranged marriage in Canada, which turns out to be far from the heaven on earth she was anticipating. Almost immediately, she senses a lack of connection with new husband Rocky (Vansh Bhardwaj), as he struggles with both familial pressures of tradition and the ideals of his newfound home. This internal power struggle manifests itself in a shocking and almost mechanical violence against his new wife, which is only part of the abuse that Chand receives, as her paycheques from her employer are confiscated and she is kept entirely in the dark about her rights and the services available to her in Canada. An almost documentarian approach to the material grounds it in reality, making Chand's struggle as harrowing and frustrating as the text intends. The problem is that the latter half of the film introduces some folklore, in the form of a cobra that represents strength, which shifts the narrative between reality and fantasy. As the same naturalistic directorial approach is used on these later developments, they prove to be less than effective, and almost obtrusive, undoing much of the preceding emotional build up. This is a shame, as Mehta's film raises some valid concerns with Canadian Social Services and their visibility to those in need, and a more cohesive narrative may have translated this to a broader audience. Included with the DVD is a feature-length commentary track from director Deepa Mehta, which is expectedly thorough and thoughtful, covering everything from techniques to relevant cultural explanations. In addition, there are brief featurettes on the workshops the actors went through, along with a "making of" featurette, which is sloppy but gives an indication as to Mehta's directing style and some of the onset dynamics. (Mongrel Media)