Marley is at the height of her proverbial game when she learns of her terminal disease. Now, she finds herself in a race against time to accomplish her premature bucket list and leave in her wake a rejoicing for the life she so enjoyed living. A Little Bit of Heaventackles the denial and disharmony of a young woman’s nuclear and professional life when she stands toe-to-toe with the most notorious of illnesses.
Kate Hudson returns to the screen as powerful as ever. She brings to Marley the vitality of will that resonates with audiences. Women from all walks of life will see in Marley the strength and determination of a warrior. Men will respect her commitment and loyalty to her family. All will acknowledge the burden and joy that is the time and love we as individuals choose to give to each other.
On the surface, Marley is a bold and confident career woman. She maintains healthy relationships with a host of interesting and diverse people. She is endeared to her family, though, like many of her generation, she keeps a safe distance from the parents whose divorce most influenced her youth and image of adult life.
Kathy Bates and Treat Williams are Beverly and Jack Corbett, Marley’s parents. Beverly is an overprotective mother who is without a clue as to the most effective way to communicate with her daughter. Jack is the estranged father whose distance is construed as disinterest. Together they create familial pairings that are both sympathetic and infuriating.
Blurring the line between family and friend are several great characters. Rosemarie Dewitt portrays Renee, happily married and living the polar opposite life of her single and fiercely independent childhood friend. Her relationship with Marley is much like that of a sister and their differences merely echo the infallible bond they have constructed overtime.
Gael Garcia Bernal is the doctor with the terrible bedside manner, Julian Goldstein, who diagnoses Marley. He could very well be the answer to her most weighted and worrisome predicament. As she attempts every possible cure and treatment while in his care, she gains perspective and a humility formerly unknown to her.
Filmed on location in New Orleans, the accessibility of the characters is likened to the charm of the city. Two story walk-ups line cobblestoned streets. Outdoor cafes litter sidewalks and throngs of people shuffle and saunter along parkways and promenades. The seamless rhythm and motion of the Big Easy allows the gravity of Marley’s experience an unexpected carelessness.
A Little Bit of Heaven guides audiences through the story of a woman whose sense of humor allows her to find closure in each aspect of her life that is unresolved. Some issues are longstanding. Some issues are only recognized in light of more recent complications. It is when she is at her wit’s end that the inevitable bearing of truth must be confronted and she must admit to herself all the things she finds far more frightening than death.
To label this film a tearjerker completely belies the incessant and inappropriate bantering of the heroine to any and all who will listen. Marley is smart, assertive, loving and completely lovable. It is exactly the portrayal of such complex and tangible emotion that will recall in audiences every good fight ever fought and every battle necessary to end the war of terminal disease.
However, much like the laughter, tears are par for the course. There are few surprises in this combat and writer Gren Wells pulls no punches. It is her stand-up shtick that shines through in her writing and makes for such relevant and achingly saucy rhetoric among characters.
Be sure to have tissues on your person and backup tissue no further than arm’s length away. Mortality, spirituality, sexuality and family are rolled into one woman’s tale of a life worth enjoying. This is the film for curling up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate and the best friend who understands the reality of a good cry.