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First Look Review - ANGEL OF MINE

angel of mine review
A mother becomes convinced that her son's playmate is the daughter she lost as an infant in a fire.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Kim Farrant

Starring: Noomi Rapace, Rebecca Bower, Luke Evans, Yvonne Strahovski

angel of mine poster



Angel of Mine, Kim Farrant’s (director, working with a screenplay from writers Luke Davies and David Regal) soapy psycho-drama opens with a close up of star Noomi Rapace’s incredible face. With glorious intimacy, the camera frames that perfect configuration of dark eyes, tiny tight lips (with that deep, delicate tilde: the lingering fingerprint of "an angel", according to the film) and rhombic cheekbones, thus establishing the film’s emotional touchstone. A leitmotif, Rapace’s expressive boat is revisited throughout the running time of Angel of Mine; an affective index of bitten lips, mouth spread in horror and tear brimmed eyes which just about sells the fanciful melodramatics of this missing child narrative.

angel of mine review
Angel of Mine begins in disappointing territory. Written by two men, Rapace’s central character of Lizzie is A Woman Who Cannot Cope. Rushing late to and from her shop assistant job, clearly stressed and sharing responsibility for her son with estranged husband (played by my boy Luke Evans, whose accent seems to have been abandoned somewhere by Thomas Cook, love him), Lizzie is an epitome of that cinematic myth of the woman who struggles with having it all: in this case, having it ‘all’ means a job, a kid and independence. As if to underline the representation, Evans goes on about the pre-school kid’s impending education, and how the lad is "going to need a solid base" (i.e., with his dad) etc. There are reasons for Lizzie’s anxiety (which will become slowly clear), but the nominal presentation is unfortunately brusque, and leans into tedious stereotype as a narrative shorthand. However, situation established, director Farrant goes on to skim across this aspect of the script, preferring to bring us closer to the genuinely desperate psychology of her central character.

angel of mine review
We learn that Lizzie lost her new-born daughter in a hospital fire, which left our girl with abundant scarring across her back. This sort of narrative information is apportioned cautiously throughout the film in an attempt to create an atmosphere of suspense, but the frugality of this enigmatic approach has the (surely unintended) effect of making Lizzie look a bit like a lunatic. Case in point is the scarring, which we discover when Lizzie hooks up with some guy on a date. I’m a huge fan of sex scenes actually used to reveal and develop character (is there a time when we are more human, more our essential selves?) rather than for window dressing, and this is a corker: Rapace having it away reverse cowgirl style, brandishing the scars like a dare, before crumbling to the floor and to have a wank while the bloke looks on nonplussed - yikes! (the motif of the masturbating woman as unhinged is as tiresome as ever, though).

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Lizzie develops an unhealthy infatuation with a little girl in the neighbourhood, a playmate of her son whom she feels an instant connection with. She begins to stalk and obsess over the kid, which understandably perturbs the girl’s mum (played by Rebecca Bower, who, like Rapace and Farrant’s assured direction, elevates the schlocky twists of the film). Surely this kid can’t somehow be the little girl thought lost in that hospital fire half a decade ago… can she?

angel of mine review
You’ll have to watch Angel of Mine to find out. It would be completely mad if the child was Lizzie’s all along though, both mad and utterly brilliant. It would take some severe skills to pull off something with such narrative improbability, wouldn’t it? At the centre of Angel of Mine’s plot dubieties is the essential truth of Rapace’s performance, perfectly calibrated to enlighten the murky twists and turns of the narrative trajectory. Using that expressive Swedish physiognomy as some sort of pulchritudinous northern star, Farrant just about steers us home.

Angel of Mine is on US blu-ray/DVD/digital October 22nd. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.




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