The Face of an Angel
The 2007 murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher in Italy was an incident that gripped the world. At the centre of the case was Kercher’s American roommate, Amanda Knox, who has been found guilty, innocent, and guilty again, but is not currently behind bars because her avenues for appeal have not yet been exhausted.
Director Michael Winterbottom takes this event as his inspiration for the film The Face of an Angel. It follows the experience of Thomas (Daniel Brühl), a filmmaker who has been commissioned to write a screenplay about a case that almost exactly mirrors the Kercher/Knox case, but for a few details.
Thomas’ career is not in good shape, and neither is his personal life. Separated from the mother of his young daughter, he is lost, angry and disillusioned. His perception of the case is strongly coloured by his life situation, which in itself may be a comment by Winterbottom about the way in which important stories such as the Kercher murder are inevitably distorted by the people charged with the task of telling them.
Thomas meets Simone (Kate Beckinsale), a foreign correspondent who has been on the case from the beginning. She introduces him to her pack of ex-pat media rats, who each have a vested interest in the case. Thomas is angered by their opportunism and cynicism, and angry about the way in which the face of the victim, Elizabeth, has been superseded by that of the accused, Jessica, and by the media storm itself.
Thomas, regularly high and haunted by disturbing visions and nightmares, attempts various angles into the screenplay, but never finds his way. The film itself could perhaps be accused of the same shortcoming: it is at times piecemeal, scatty, and a little too “story within a story”. But its concept is intelligent. What is the truth? More importantly, do we even care? Or would we rather be dazzled by and entangled in a media-spun mystery about sex and death, the telling of which says more about ourselves than it does about either the victim or the accused?
The film is shot in a haunting, cobbled-street Siena. The definite highlight is the debut performance of Cara Delevingne, who plays Melanie, the waitress/student/aspiring actress who befriends Thomas, and ultimately saves him from despair. The naturalism of her bewitching performance will ensure her return to the screen. Overall, The Face of an Angel is an intelligent and haunting film.
The Face of an Angel is released nationwide on 27th March 2015.
Watch the trailer for The Face of An Angel here: