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Time Out says
Tue Aug 26 2008Prolific French director François Ozon has amassed a cheerfully idiosyncratic, if inconsistent, body of work over the past decade. True to form, his latest is something of a headscratcher: a curious, highly stylised English-language period adaptation of a novel by the enigmatic early-twentieth- century novelist Elizabeth Taylor. It details the bumpy rise to fame of the wayward and naturally talented pulp author Angel Deverell, who is brought to life by a game, rough-around-the-edges performance from Romola Garai.
Despising her modest upbringing, Angel’s lively imagination is brought to the attention of Sam Neill’s nurturing publishing agent, and when her fluffy romantic prose strikes a chord with the public, she dives headlong into a stormy romance with Michael Fassbender’s fiery painter. As with Ozon’s salty chamber drama ‘Water Drops on Burning Rocks’, ‘Angel’ feels like it’s been patterned on one of Fassbinder’s late period ‘women’s pictures’, with the central character exhibiting similar egotistical dimensions to, say, a Petra von Kant or a Veronika Voss.
However, this film lacks the passion, verve and subtle meaning that came naturally in the work of Ozon’s German inspiration. And while there is a strange satisfaction to be had from a lead heroine who’s not constantly baying for your affection (often, it’s quite the opposite), Ozon’s film plays a difficult hand, never settling for all-out high kitsch or straight melodrama. One of the year’s most charming failures.
Author: David Jenkins