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58th BFI LFF - The Face Of An Angel


Murder sex and mystery. The Meredith Kercher case compelled the world. Kercher was a young British student who was murdered in Italy. Her roommate Amanda Knox and her boyfriend were initially imprisoned for the crime, but the case was always a mess, and after years in prison, they were eventually released without any new suspect to take their place. 

With name changes, this case makes up the (unveiled) subject of Michael Winterbottom's film, The Face Of An Angel. The vehicle into the story is a filmmaker Thomas (Daniel Bruhl) charged with the task of creating a movie about these teenage girls. Sent to Siena to get a sense of the case and players in it, an American journalist Simone Ford based in Italy (Kate Beckinsale), acts as his guide, as he tries to find an angle from which to approach this confusing case. Struggling with a divorce, and not seeing his young daughter, he finds a connection with a young British student Melanie working in a bar (Cara Delavigne), and soon becomes unnervingly caught up with the mystery that plagues Siena.

As the case, Winterbottom's film is also somewhat confusing. The actors are all stellar, and the idea of the story is indeed intriguing. Winterbottom has created a well constructed, atmospheric film; dark and moody, with a fabulously cinematic location in the opulent winding mazes of the Siena streets. Oddly, the film has all the ingredients to be great, but never quite meets the mark. I think simply using the real life murder case of Kercher as a backdrop to tell a more intimate story of a man struggling with his life, professionally and personally, just didn't come off. As an audience, I wanted more focus on, and some sort of closure with the murder case - which is the more engaging subject, and one that carries the film. Amusingly, this is the argument that Thomas' producer actually makes when he is pitching his idea for the movie! Winterbottom should have perhaps, listened to them...

I was fairly disappointed, yes. But there is still so much in The Face Of An Angel that is worth seeing it for - one of which being the performances, and notably, an encouragingly warm and natural performance from model Cara Delavigne.

Fast paced and unnerving, The Face Of An Angel may not be a Winterbottom classic, but still, an ambitious film that deserves recognition.

Average: 3 (1 vote)
Visitor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)
UK Release Date: 
Saturday, October 18, 2014
USA Release Date: 
Saturday, October 18, 2014