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Little Bit of Heaven, A


Stars: Kate Hudson, Gael Garcia Bernal, Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Bates, Lucy Punch, Romany Malco, Rosemary DeWitt, Steven Weber, Treat Williams, Peter Dinklage

Director: Nicole Kassell

Hedonistic thirtysomething Hudson’s unfulfilled life crashes around her when she is diagnosed with terminal colon cancer in a cliché-cluttered tearjerker. Hudson’s friends rally round her while she deliberately refuses to face her impending death until an unexpected romance with her doctor, Bernal (she greets him with “You look familiar. Have we had sex?”), forces her to take life – what there is left of it – seriously, face her fate and commit emotionally to someone else.

Despite Hudson's affair with Bernal, the film patently doesn’t work as a Love Story-style romcom, since Hudson’s cancer is the elephant in the room and impossible to ignore. As with Camille and Love Story, we are waiting for her to die. Which, for my money, also makes A Little Bit of Heaven not much of a proposition as a date movie.

Gren Wells’ screenplay rarely breaks provocative dramatic ground, preferring instead to concentrate on Hudson. And, unexpectedly, she turns in a good performance, brave in the face of impending death and sassy prior to her cancer diagnosis (she pitches an advertising campaign for condoms to initially unbelieving executives and wins them over) even surviving an uncomfortable ‘comic’ scene when dwarf Dinklage (best remembered from The Station Agent) turns up as an evening ‘gift’ from a friend and they fake wild sex from behind a closed door to embarrass the friend.

Hudson is the focus of the melodrama but despite turning in an above average performance (for her) she is unable finally to save the show from its tsunami of clichés.

Most embarrassing of all, however, is Goldberg who, dressed in white and trading wisecracks and fortune-cookie style aphorisms, appears as the divine being Hudson meets in the clouds during (I assume) out-of-body sequences. Presumably someone remembered Morgan Freeman as ‘God’ in Evan Almighty. Pity.

The other cast members, notably Bates as Hudson’s mother, finally bonding with the daughter who dislikes her, do what they have to do comptenetly, as does director Nicole Kassell.
(For me, the most truthful performance came from a peeing orang-utan seen in the background during Hudson’s visit to the zoo.)

Alan Frank

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors. Colour.
108 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 02 Feb 2011