This is a ghostly and slippery sideways glance at the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher in Italy in 2007 – a crime that fellow students Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito seem to have been convicted and cleared of ad infinitum ever since. But it’s also a film directed by Michael Winterbottom (‘The Look of Love’, ‘24 Hour Party People’). So, instead of dealing directly with the murder, Winterbottom and writer Paul Viragh (‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’) give us a filmmaker, Thomas (Daniel Brühl), who travels to the Tuscan city of Siena to research a film on the case.
Thomas comes face to face with a predatory media pack and has something close to a breakdown in the process. Like all good middle-age male breakdowns, this one involves an encounter (chaste, though) with a beautiful young woman – an English barmaid played with ease and charm by Cara Delevingne: her character represents the youthful spirit cut dead by the murder, but also sheds light on Thomas’s own fractured family background. ‘The Face of an Angel’ ties itself up in some strange knots, and the more pedestrian scenes in London, as Thomas meets with producers and potential financiers, jar a little with the haunting gothic atmosphere that Winterbottom conjures up in Siena. But the film’s layered, enquiring, half-formed and unknowing vibe feels fitting in the context of a tragic real-life story that has inspired all sorts of hysteria and unfounded opinion.