A Little Bit of Heaven is a love story set in New Orleans about an irreverent young woman who unexpectedly falls in love with her doctor. It’s about tying up loose ends, little by little, and realizing finally, that life is a gift to be celebrated in the short time we are all here.
If one were to be struck by a serious illness (“ass- cancer” as they refer to it in the film) which was detected late and the treatment was going to be brutal, would you want to go ahead with trying to get cured or to live whatever life you have left to the fullest? My choice will likely be the latter. Although why not make the best of life with each day instead? This is the theme put forth in this film from director Nicole Kassell.
Marley (Kate Hudson) has a love for life that is contagious. Her life includes many different types of characters who each help her get through the journey she is about to face. They include her co-worker Sarah (also her after-party partner, played by Lucy Punch) and Peter (Romany Malco), her overly flamboyant friend/neighbor who ‘gets’ what Marley needs & doesn’t need. Then there are her parents- an absentee father (Alan Dale) & overbearing mother (Kathy Bates). I enjoyed the scene where her mother makes her a nice big steak so she will have lots of iron and energy, and Marley proceeds to tell her mother she has been a vegetarian for the past 13 years. Right off the bat, you can tell how their banter will go for the rest of the movie!
Marley falls in love with her doctor (Gael Garcia Bernal) who proceeds to show her all the things she didn’t think she wanted (to fall in love) in life. Kate Hudson’s character goes through the movie acting like a happy-go-lucky cancer patient while everyone around her is sad. Her character’s physical descent is marked only by a lack of makeup, slightly less voluminous hair, and chronic pajama-wearing. Not very realistic for a cancer patient (no hair loss?) but then again it’s just a movie.
Unlike most of the critics though, I really enjoyed this movie. It was fun and light-hearted, both of which cancer is not, but I didn’t see it as a “cancer” movie. I thought it was more of a romantic comedy about a woman still learning about her life, even though she has little time left to enjoy it. It explores the idea of not knowing the path you’re going down and trying to make sense of what you want & don’t want in life which is universal. That said, I would love to see Hudson stretch herself outside of the romantic comedy genre she has claimed.
Perhaps my favorite moment was a dream sequence that takes place while Marely is undergoing a procedure during her treatment. She finds herself in heaven and meets God, who takes the form of Whoopi Goldberg and grants her three wishes. The movie then takes us through all her wishes which come to fruition accidentally.
This movie make me think…What would I want my funeral to be like? What would I do in my last days? But then again, why wait to find out you have a terminal illness to do the things you want to do?
Get out there and live your life, chase your dreams, and make it happen! A film that can make you feel that sentiment is certainly a little bit of heaven.