Sunday, September 14, 2014

TIFF 14 Film Review - The Face of An Angel

Inspired by Barbie Latza Nadeau 2010 book Angel Face; THE FACE OF AN ANGEL loosely recounts the events surrounding the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, and the subsequent international print and T.V frenzy surrounding the trial of Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. The case took on monstrous proportions as the press horde from three nations descended on Perugia, Italy to cover the trial, appeal and reinstatements.

Director Michael Winterbottom changes the names and locations to make a fictional work with emphasis on the foreign media correspondents covering the case plus, the local region itself with Siena standing in for Perugia.

Daniel Bruhl plays Thomas a director gathering information to make a film about the case. His representation and studio are looking for a story centred on the two foreign student girls and their Italian boyfriends, which is not the story that Thomas wants to tell. His main contact is American Journalist Simone Ford (Kate Beckinsale) who has worked for different organizations in Italy over the last 14 years.

The main subject of the film is not to find who is guilty of the crime but more to focus on the media. Their pack mentality and the influence their tendency to lean toward sensationalization has on the public. The film features several shots of the hoard rushing into the courthouse for key verdicts, talk of paying family members for exclusive rights to documents, interviews and bragging amongst the corps about scoops and being first to know about a report on pivotal information.

Winterbottom also spends some time on how the international correspondent life affects the journalist. Many of the pool are separated or divorced. Since they are constantly on the move they tend to have joint or no custody of their children and engage in partner swapping amongst the group almost to a first year University level.

A couple of story lines in the piece do not work with the overall theme.  An over developed tangent with Thomas and student/bartender Melanie (Carla Delevigne) is too prominent in the production. Another is the appearance of a professor/landlord Eduardo who pops in and out of the shadows, authors a blog with unique information about the case and may or may not be a suspect.

Daniel Bruhl is steady as the main character Thomas. It's through his character that the narrative  questions the role of journalist in proceedings. Kate Beckinsale has little impact as Simone Ford drifting in and out of the film almost as often as she heads back and forth to Rome when it's her weekend with the kids.

Amongst the characters and details of the case featured in The FACE OF AN ANGEL there is definitely a story to tell. Michael Winterbottom approached the subject from an atypical direction but he does not get near the root of the matter. It may take more time and proper perspective or at least until the final legal wrangling are complete before the complete story can be told.

** 1/2 Out of 4.

THE FACE OF AN ANGEL | Michael Winterbottom | U.K/ Italy/Spain | 2014| 100 Minutes.

Tags: Foreign Correspondents, Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox, Italy, Britain, United States, Perugia, Siena Foreign Exchange Students, Murder Case, Conviction, Acquittal, Barbie Latza Nadeau, Angel Face.

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