Brimming with both feral energy and surprising humanity, Heavenly Creatures was best defined by its director Peter Jackson, who called it "a murder story about love, a murder story with no villains." This idea is reflected in the film's treatment of its "heavenly creatures," two schoolgirls whose consuming fantasy world is much more fulfilling than what the real world offers them: reality, in the end, is the film's true villain, as its intrusion on the girls' fantasy world ultimately brings everything crashing down. As seen by Jackson, a director previously known for such gory gross-out films as Bad Taste and Dead Alive, the girls are intelligent, creative creatures hurtling along on a weird trajectory towards madness; as played by Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey, they are vibrant characters undone as much by their vulnerability as by their destructiveness. Winslet and Lynskey are the film's strongest assets, playing off each other in perfectly nuanced harmony. Where Winslet's Juliet is cocky and brash, Lynskey's Pauline is subdued and glowering; together, they glow with a righteous fire bordering on lunacy. Jackson refuses to condemn or apologize for them, leaving viewers to elicit their own conclusions from the story's parade of horror and beauty.