Critical Analysis Two: Heaven Knows What

Heaven Knows What is a movie about a girl named Harley and her lover Ilya. At the beginning of the movie Ilya askes Harley to prove her love for him by slitting her wrists, and she does, but with a minimal amount of hesitation due to her love her heroin. The movie consists of the situations that Harley must go through being a homeless heroin addict in Manhattan. Throughout the movie, it shows the lifestyle of being homeless and a drug addict, by showing her begging, shoplifting, and stealing to get money for drugs. The movie portrays the way being in love with both a person and a substance can create so much agony and distress in a person’s life.


The aesthetic qualities of this film weren’t in such great quality. The movie is filmed more as a low-income type film. The cinematography didn’t have many special effects, mainly just music in the background to enhance the anticipation of a certain scene such as when Harley walks into the fast food restaurant bathroom to see Ilya overdosing on the floor. The conversation between the characters is mainly through dialogue.


The story is told through following Harley around with her endeavors. When there is conflict, it is shown through arguments and at some points through violence. The movie is paced at a speed that would at some points bore someone who is not interested in the movie. The movie in a way seems to look more like a documentary about this person and her situations but it’s just a slow-paced movie that can semi drag on.


Throughout this movie, it was tough to see the positive values that were shown, which made this movie better. Many drug addicts lose their sight of values when they get absorbed into their addiction or even into a terrible relationship with someone. The values that could have been shown are friendship, love, and loyalty. Harley shows her love and loyalty for Ilya in the beginning of the movie by attempting suicide to prove her love. As well as trying to revive him during his overdose, and then proceeding to get on a bus with him at the end of the movie. The values help to show how reliant Harley was on Ilya for affection and for comfort and stability. As well as those values this movie helps to show the social concerns of homelessness, mental illness, suicide and drug abuse.


This movie showed the violence between a friend of Harley who was trying to get her to leave Ilya and Ilya in a park. They fought causing it to end with one person injured. But this movie also shows the graphic images of Harley cutting herself as well as injecting heroin into herself. Even though that is not considered ‘violent’ it is most worth mentioning.


This movie in a sense made it seem like women, Harley, are dependent on men. They made it seem like the whole point of the movie was to attempt to get Ilya back and win his love. She is more obsessed with getting back with him and saving him and being with him rather than getting herself help and doing better in life. It makes it seem like all women care about is the idea that they will only be happy with a significant other.


I found this movie very interesting and I liked the way it was filmed. It took you through the life of a homeless drug addict and they did a great job at showing it. They showed how she would survive as well as the need for drugs and love to be content on the street. Overall I find that this movie is a must watch for people, it shows the pitfalls of drug abuse and the struggle of the homeless community in Manhattan.



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