Review: The Face of an Angel


There has already been a film about the murder in Italy of British student Meredith Kercher but, as it wasn't directed by Michael Winterbottom, you probably haven't heard about it.

This has been steeped in the sort of controversy that bodes well for the box-office as accused Amanda Knox's lawyers threatened to sue the moment they got wind of the movie and the Kercher family gave it their blessing.

There is also the added attraction of seeing model of the moment Cara Delevingne making a very worthy screen debut as Melanie, a spirited English student living in Perugia - and if just her 10 million Twitter followers go to see it, the BBC has nothing to worry about.

Rather than focus on the crime itself, Face of An Angel, which is based on the book by CNN journalist Barbie Latza Nadeau, is about Thomas (Daniel Brühl), a failed Hollywood director arriving in Italy to develop a film based on a book about the trial written by an American journalist (Kate Beckinsale). This extreme case of art imitating life imitating art is familiar terrain for Winterbottom who turned Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy into a film about two actors trying to make the book into a film.

This grand narrative is an interesting device, though I didn't expect troubled Thomas with all his personal and professional problems to dominate and was much more interested in the journalists that he meets through Melanie who - like us, the great unwashed - were fascinated by the case and willing to do anything to get a new angle on the story.

It is the media furore around the crime and supposed lack of sympathy for the Kercher family's tragic situation that Winterbottom has set out to highlight in this film about a murder that isn't about the murder. Nevertheless, it is an intriguing piece of drama from a director who challenges perception and in the case of Russell Brand, the star of his next film, this can only be a good thing.

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