Gene Tierney’s tour-de-force in a role of a psychopathic, pathological woman (Ellen Berent) on the verge of insanity makes Leave Her to Heaven the most noir-ish of all noirs filmed in Technicolor. Tierney is indeed the archetype of all the demented women which graced the screen in years to come.
Cornel Wilde plays a successful novelist Richard Harland, who falls in love with Ellen during a train trip. Soon they get engaged, and only then is Richard able to grasp the madness that eats his wife from the inside. Her severely troubled state progresses, and when it does no relative is left unharmed. As the days go by, her enormous obsession leads to a bunch of horrible incidents and is the source of a grave misery for everyone who as much as talks to Harland.
Leave Her to Heaven is a film about love and there’s no doubt about it, but the love portrayed by Gene is so harrowing and unnerving that it makes one reconsider what the feeling really means. It’s an emotional bloodbath, and a nightmarish realization of a man’s most fatalistic visions. Once Richard gets himself into this deranged ordeal of a marriage he isn’t able to escape the cruel fate. His life is spiraling out of control as much as his willingness to live slowly decreases. The only person, who might help him is his wife’s lovely younger sister Ruth, but she also becomes a victim of Ellen’s sick scheme.
Leave Her to Heaven might come as an absurd melodrama for some, but its substance delivers many cringe-worthy moments, presenting one of those ‘too good to be true’ stories. It’s as beautiful in its cinematography as it is frightening in its realization.