Being in Heaven
Starring: Daniel Whyte and Michael Domeyko Rowland
Distributor: Palace Films
Runtime: 93 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2011
Young and successful, Jason Masterman (Whyte) an Australian working in New York, loses all his money in a financial crash. He is thrown out of his home, loses his job and returns to his homeland, where he gains part-time employment writing articles for a friend’s magazine.
He is sent to an unusual restaurant, where he encounters a mysterious writer (Domeyko Rowland) who specialises in uplifting people’s lives. Michael reveals to him ancient truths about the path to complete fulfilment. Initially sceptical, even hostile, Jason undergoes a transformation during the course of the meal.
There is an industry in product placement in films in recent years. Michael Domeyko Rowland has had a distinguished career in the Australian cinema. In recent years, however, after a dramatic personal conversion, he has self-styled himself as “Australia’s leading Self Development and Personal Growth author and presenter”. Being in Heaven brings both Domeylo Rowland’s passions together.
There are many laudable things discussed: letting go of toxic memories, rewriting the scripts we have for ourselves, claiming personal power to write new scripts and believing in the ability to affect personal transformation. These ideas may be expressed in different ways in other Christian spiritual paths, but they are there.
For many Christians, however, the lack of any religious context will suggest too strong an emphasis on New Age thinking and living. This is conversion therapy for a secular world. Many of the ideas are thought provoking as far as they go, though I would have liked Daniel to have challenged several elements more vigorously within both the content and the process outlined in the film.
The major flaw in the film is not its content. It is the vehicle for its delivery. It is one of the wordiest and self-consciously didactic films I have ever seen. Daniel Whyte does a heroic job in trying to make a drama out of a teaching session, but nothing can help the audience feel they are sitting through a narrative reworking of a Michael Domeyko Rowland workshop.
Furthermore, as earnest and passionate as Domeyko Rowland may be about his insights and his methods, he should never have cast himself in the lead role. His performance is stilted and poorly realised and only adds to the sense of the project being a 93 minute product placement.
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