Romance in films, let alone fiction, is great. The constraints of reality do not have to bring the fantasy down. Just leaving you relationships that you want to see succeed, despite the circumstances. In 1983, one film took on the wildest imagination of a small steamy area of Florida and turned it into celluloid reality. That film was A Night in Heaven.
We follow Faye Hanlon, a teacher at Florida college, who after chastising one Ricky Monroe, decides to fail him. Her relationship with her husband Whitney is also facing difficulties as he is not coping with well after quitting his rocket engineering job in protest of his work’s military applications. While blowing off some steam with her visiting sister, the two hit a nightclub. She becomes mesmerised with one of the stripers, who turns out to be none other than Student Ricky. After getting an exclusive performance the romantic tension reaches breaking point as the student-teacher relationship becomes a more amorous one… for a night in heaven, someone will have to get hurt.
The scenes in the night club are arguably the main draw, star Christopher Atkins knows how to move. Though he is helped by the soundtrack, which itself is phenomenal, with the original version Animotion’s synth masterpiece Obsession, sung by Holly Knight & Michael Des Barres. Jan Hammer brings this pumping seductive synth jam fittingly titled Like What You See, and to top it all off you have Bryan Adam’s almost eponymous track, Heaven. The film is a plethora of synth-pop and rock hits that are great to listen to inside and outside the film.
Coming from the same screenwriter who wrote Robert Altman’s 70s classic, Nashville, Joan Tewkesbury manages to capture the world around her. There is a humorous subplot involving the rise of video games, and some serious undertones about the ever increase encroach of the Military-Industrial Complex on the scientific community. The film is not all erotic dancing, though that does not mean it can’t have passion. As can be seen in the latter half of the film as we see the principled husband Whitney driven to a homicidal rage about the affair and circumstances he has inherited.
A Night in Heaven is a steamy love affair that feels more peculiar on retrospect. It is admittedly a child of its time if all the spandex and synth-pop didn’t give that away, but like the many romantic films that succeed it, knows exactly what its audience wants, and gives it in spades. A Night in Heaven also not being afraid to tackle other topics of the day too, in an idiosyncratic yet memorable combination. Although a night in heaven is hard to come by, if you get a chance it would be worth the wait.
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