Director: Michael Winterbottom
Cast: Daniel Brühl, Kate Beckinsale, Cara Delevingne, Ava Acres, Genevieve Gaunt
Age Rating: R/15
Running Time: 101 minutes
Michael Winterbottom brings us the chilling story of filmmaker Thomas Lang (Daniel Brühl) chasing the motive and truth behind the notorious murder case of American student Elizabeth Pryce who was supposedly killed by her flatmate Jessica Fuller. It is a story which is based on true events of the Meredith Kercher case in 2007, which resulted in Amanda Knox spending almost four years in an Italian prison.
Assisted by the global journalist Simone Ford (Kate Beckinsale), Thomas explores the town of Siena, Tuscany, to try and uncover the real story and bring his viewers something true and hitting, rather than the sugar coated and manipulated lies the journalists feed the world. He befriends an English student Melanie (Cara Delevingne) who helps to show him the ‘real’ Siena, and it is from here onwards that THE FACE OF AN ANGEL takes more of a focus on the director’s backstory and his psychological state.
The film analyses the depth and corruption behind the trial, from an outsider perspective, which in turn, makes this a story about Thomas in itself with the case of Elizabeth Pryce taking almost a backseat to his journey.
Daniel Brühl puts in a decent performance, but it is fair to say that his acting brilliance which we see in the likes of INGLORIOUS BASTERDS and RUSH is never really tested. His character Thomas is kept very complex and mysterious throughout, which at times, makes it very hard to follow and understand his mental stability. However, if this was director Michael Winterbottom’s aim, he has done it brilliantly.
Kate Beckinsale puts in a solid performance once again, showcasing her genre range and playing the role of a journalist very well, while Cara Delevigne, who the film had almost been built up around pre-release, ends up playing a fairly minimal role, and one which is likely to be overshadowed by her part in PAPER TOWNS later this year.
Personally, I can appreciate that rather than making a simple documentary about the Meredith Kercher case of 2007, Winterbottom wanted to try something different here by building on a story of an outsider analysing the case. This shows originality and it is definitely a reason I have a lot of respect for the film. However, I found that the film was missing a lot of chemistry between characters throughout (of course apart from the sexual scenes), and that it did not flow too well, due to the random cutaways for Thomas’ nightmares, which remain vague and unexplained.
Overall, I feel that this film has been harshly criticised. I am not saying that it is cinematic brilliance or anywhere near close to perfection, but it is a decent BBC drama, which leaves me wanting to know more about the true story behind it. It hosts an impressive cast and captures the essence of Italy brilliantly.
Recommendation: An interesting mid-week watch. If treated like a Television drama, it is an intriguing film attempting to uncover more behind a real life story.
The Face Of An Angel Is Released On DVD/Blu-Ray on July 20th
Distributed by Soda Pictures