Stealing Heaven

Dir: Clive Donner
Star: Kim Thomson, Derek de Lint, Denholm Elliott, Mark Jax

A large tub of chocolate chip ice-cream, and a box of tissues, please. Yes, this is a chick flick, set in the Dark Ages - or something vaguely resembling them, since the flawless skin and pearly teeth on display here would suggest they weren't really that Dark after all. The feisty Eloise (Thomson) is sent to Paris, where she falls for philosophy teacher Abelard (De Lint), and he for her, which is a problem since, in those days, teachers were supposed to be celibate... Not that this stops them, mind, but it does lead to a lot of guilt, and worse still, Eloise's uncle (Elliott) sending thugs with sharp blades after Abelard, intent on removing his genitals.

It's easy to be cynical about this kind of film, not least in a depiction of student life in medieval Paris that's closest to Animal House: all drinking, pranks and rampaging through the streets. I also suspect anyone so questioning of the church as Eloise, might have met a nastier, stake-based fate. And she named her son Astrolabe? Yet, it's undeniably affecting, with an earnest intensity to the relationship which overpowers flaws through sheer force of will and strength of performance. That it's based on a true story helps, and it's impressively raunchy too. This chick flick is one which guys can enjoy rather than endure - even discounting the chance to "console" your gently sobbing other half.


Love, medieval-French style
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