Friday, 26 June 2015

REVIEW - THE FACE OF AN ANGEL (MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM)


Every bit the film it intends to be, yet nothing like the film it could be, Michael Winterbottom's The Face of an Angel once again brings this talented filmmaker's taste in scripts, and his commitment to those talents that he possesses in earnest, into unfortunate doubt. An inquiry into the subjective quality of 'truth' from different perspectives, this fictionalisation of the Amanda Knox / Raffaele Sollecito trial has far more promise than purpose, eventually, as it surrenders to trite narrative devices that diminish its potential intelligence. For a film that exalts, quite pompously in fact, the merits of unconventional storytelling methods, The Face of an Angel is lax in its application of them itself, largely preferring to put its philosophical inquisitiveness out to pasture as writer Paul Viragh realises not the inconsequentiality of such a process (since that is entirely the point) but his inability to resolve it in any satisfactory manner. All that remains is a cliched, underdeveloped midlife crisis / artistic ennui picture, in which yet another hopelessly noble, brilliantly gifted (semi-)young, white, male genius is thwarted by a woefully unforgiving world, populated by brutish alpha males and cold women. Boo hoo, but what do I care? They don't pursue the film's dangling existential plot thread much, since I don't expect Winterbottom encouraged them to, but a miscast ensemble rather gives the film some undeserved zip. Cara Delevingne transcends the stereotype she's lumbered with - indeed, it was only after the film had ended that I realised how much of a cliche her role represented, such was Delevingne's easygoing appeal.