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Reviews

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:50 pm

http://www.bigandsmallscreen.com/2009/10/movie-review-angel.html

Monday, October 5, 2009
Movie Review - Angel
Scottsdale International Film Festival Movie Review.

Talk about taking your time to get to Arizona, this film was shown at the Berlin International Film Festival back in February of 2007 where it was nominated for a Golden Bear. Anyway thanks to the Scottsdale Festival team for finally dragging it to the desert as it was a very interesting movie.

While not every movie I see is along the lines of Star Trek, Terminator or Pandorum nevertheless this was still an unusual pick for me and that's why I love film festivals so much. It is very unlikely I would have seen this on a Big Screen if it had been released normally simply due to the choice of films we are faced with every week. I am glad I caught Angel at a theater as director Ozon has created a particularly English film (for a French director) that ranks up there with some of the better BBC produced costume dramas.

The film itself is an adaptation of a 1957 Elizabeth Taylor novel who also penned the story that became the 2005 movie Mrs Palfrey at The Claremont. It was directed by Francois Ozon who was at the helm of the sultry French picture Swimming Pool (one of my personal favorites) and the movie that seemed to star all of France's famous actresses, 8 Femmes. In these three films women are the lead characters and he enjoys casting strong and interesting actresses. Charlotte Rampling who starred in Swimming Pool appears again here in Angel but it is the relatively new face of Romola Garai portraying a famous author Angel Deverell who dominates this movie with a performance that was certainly compelling if not wholly convincing.

We first meet Angel Deverell growing up in modest surroundings above the grocery store her mother runs in a small English town. As an adolescent she shuns friendships for her passion to become a famous writer of sensational romances. When her first book is published as a teenager she begins a career of prolific writing that soon sees her escape the life she never felt she was meant to lead. Marriage to the love of her life follows but so does misery as he enlists to fight in the Great War. Her husband Esmé a self-loathing artist whose dark paintings are the polar opposite of his wife's writing is played with aplomb by Michael Fassbender who some of you will have seen playing Lt. Archie Hicox in Inglorious Basterds this summer. When Esmé returns from the War with severe injuries their marriage suffers further still and Angel, unable to write her frothy romances, begins a descent into solitude, isolation and eventual tragedy.

This was such an interesting film for me for a number of reasons. Ozon does a fine job of recreating a believable Edwardian England with characters that seemed based in reality all offering a sharp contrast to the sometimes clownishly eccentric Angel. Garai takes on the lead role with a terrific confidence and for the majority of the film plays the arrogant young woman just right but in the last half as Angel's life begins to crumble so does the portrayal we were previously enjoying. Frankly it has to be down to Ozon as the director but Angel's growing eccentricities were laughable, not in a believable way but instead you wondered if he had received an urgent call and had to let someone else finish off the movie. Garai ended up looking more like a Goth teen than a grieving and sick widow which was an utter distraction during some of the more emotional scenes. The passing of time seemed to have been totally ignored and while Angel became whiter at the end she looked just as young as the adolescent we met at the beginning of the film. You could argue that this is just being picky and it's true it didn't take anything away from the story but it was pretty hard to ignore.

Sam Neill as Angels publisher and Lucy Russel playing Angel's confident and unrequited suitor were both very good in supporting roles but this was clearly Romola Garai's movie. I read that the actress considers the film to be her best work to date but she is only 27 and there will undoubtedly be much better roles for her in the future.

It was an up and down film for me. At times stirring with the sense you were watching a salute to some of the great epic period movies made in the 1950s and 1960s but then at times it seemed like it had lost it's way and even confidence in itself. I would certainly say this is a good movie to rent if you enjoy this period of English history just don't expect a classic.

Rating ***

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Re: Reviews

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:24 am

http://www.cleveland.com/movies/index.ssf/2010/01/acclaimed_director_francois_oz.html

Acclaimed director Francois Ozon's 'Angel' get Cleveland premiere
By John Petkovic, The Plain Dealer
January 14, 2010, 11:12PM

Francois Ozon earned his reputation as the enfant terrible of France’s new wave at the beginning of the century by summoning the ghosts of Fassbinder and Hitchcock.

Films such as "See the Sea," "Criminal Lovers" or the American breakthrough "The Swimming Pool" mixed sexuality with violence to create disturbing yet suspenseful portraits of violent psychologies.

There’s nothing disturbing about his latest, "Angel." At least on the surface.

Based on a satirical novel by Elizabeth Taylor —the novelist, not the actor — "Angel" is as fluffy as the elaborate gowns worn by its main character.

Angel (Romola Garai), you see, is a working-class girl who dreams of being a famous romance writer.

Voila! One day she writes a romance novel and becomes an overnight sensation. What follows is a tale you could just as well see in the schmaltziest of dime-store romances.

She rakes in millions, buys a palace she dubs "Paradise" and throws elaborate balls. The world, it seems, hangs on her every word and nods along when she delivers pearls such as, "I quite like Shakespeare, except when he tries to be funny."

Ah, what would a romance novel-life be with the perfect lover — in this case a handsome painter played by Michael Fassbender.

Ain’t life grand! So much so that "Angel" evolves into one of the fluffiest films I’ve ever scene, from the melodramatic music to the picture-perfect sunny days to the kind of charming colors you might see in a Douglas Sirk. So much so that "Angel" ranks among Ozon’s most subversive films.

There’s something really disturbing about all the fluff. It’s so outrageous and over the top with scenes that look like something out of a choreographed MGM musical from way back when.

Ozon delivers it all with such deadpan style that "Angel" could easily appeal to fans of romantic melodrama.

That is, if they could somehow overlook the megalomania in his writer’s eyes. Or how it all looks so picture perfect that it can’t possibly be true.

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Re: Reviews

Post by Admin on Mon Aug 02, 2010 6:09 pm

http://laudatrix.blogspot.com/2010/08/angel.html

Monday, 2 August 2010
Angel
Just when I thought the impossible had happened and I had fallen out of love with the mighty Fassbender, I suddenly "got" Angel. The script is garish, the sets kitsch and the soundtrack beyond melodramatic, but it's meant to be like that you see? Michael Fassbender's role as the "heroine" Angel (either Romola Garai at her very best, or very worst - I haven't decided)'s husband explains in wonderful technicolour exactly why Tarantino saw fit to cast him as the hilarious parody of an English soldier in the role of Lt. Archie Hicox. And now that I feel I'm in on Francois Ozon's laboriously constructed joke, I am back to being all gushy about Michael (are first name terms appropriate?). Should I ever meet him, and there is a very dangerous possibility that I might, words wouldn't be on the menu let me assure you. Especially after this - ding dong. After seeing that he can pack a punch in a "period piece" such as this, I eagerly await his performance in Jane Eyre.
I have nothing really of any use left to say about the film, other than to correct a mistake made in an earlier entry about Ozon's upcoming film Le Refuge. It isn't out on DVD at all, it is indeed hitting cinemas - potentially one near you.
Posted by Laudatrix at 12:40

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Re: Reviews

Post by Pilar on Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:22 pm

Dammit, I wish they'd release a U.S. region dvd.
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Re: Reviews

Post by Admin on Sat Aug 14, 2010 8:35 pm

Good news-they did release a region 1 through Amazon Canada.

Not so good news-wait until we set up a Canadian Amazon store. We just got the UK store together and the Canadian store should be up soon...K?

Fish Tank is also available through Amazon Canada.

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Re: Reviews

Post by Admin on Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:23 pm

http://fanapart.blogspot.com/2010/09/angel-dvd-review.html

Thursday, September 16, 2010
Angel: DVD Review

What is it that drew Francois Ozon, director of sensual character studies like Water Drops on Burning Rocks and Swimming Pool, to romance novelist Elizabeth Taylor? Angel, his first English-language feature, is based on her novel of the same name and set in Edwardian England. Angel Deverell starts the movie as schoolgirl who dreams of becoming a writer. A couple of reels and one sympathetic publisher later, her dream is on its way to being fulfilled. The only problem is that by now everyone dislikes her – the other characters, the audience, and most surprisingly, the film itself.

What do you do with a lead character who is self-absorbed, shallow, vain, manipulative and melodramatic? Liking her is out of the question, though one might have respected her if she had talent to back her spunk. However, even here the film seems to suggest that she’s little more than a hack. Still, the camera refuses to leave her. She’s in almost every frame, the undeserving cynosure of everyone’s eyes. The more we will the movie to dig deeper – to explain her motivations and give us a reason to sympathise – the more it pushes its Mills and Boons agenda.

The cast does their best – a quiet Sam Neill as the publisher, a wasted Charlotte Rampling as his wife. Michael Fassbender, playing her love interest, has a cruel glint in his eye reminiscent of a young Daniel Day-Lewis. Ramola Garai, meanwhile, has the thankless job of playing a lead character who, as she admits in the cast interview included as a bonus feature, is far from admirable. She tries hard, but it’s a losing battle, what with her own film setting her up from the beginning.

A version of this review appeared in Time Out Delhi.

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Re: Reviews

Post by Admin on Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:49 am

http://www.filmfare.com/articles/angel-1559.html

REVIEWS
{Angel}
Sep 30, 2010 - 03:45 PM
Angel
[ 0 ] 1 2 3 4

Director: Francois Ozon
Cast: Romola Garai, Sam Neill, Charlotte Rampling, Lucy Russell, Michael Fassbender and Sam Neill
Lumiere Movies and Moser Baer
Rs 399
Quick Take: Delightful film with an outstanding performance by Romola Garai

A British film by a French director is rare indeed and one wonders if the effort would bear a productive and evocative result. Angel, inspite of slightly camp and tacky production values (a lot of the background scenery is prerecorded and looks distinctly unreal as actors are driving by) is delightful in most part for its exuberant lead Romola Garai who plays the part of Angel Deverell — the film is based on a book by Elizabeth Taylor, not the actress though — the school girl with her head in the clouds and penchant for writing fanciful stories about the world inspite of her ignorance of worldly ways.

Her dream of becoming a published writer comes true quickly and she’s thrust in to high society of the early 1900s as the toast of the town with her romance novels even being adapted into plays. Fame and fortune buy her a house called Paradise, a large dog and a loyal assistant in the form of the genteel Nora (Russell). Nora’s brother Esme (Fassbender), a painter and someone not initially taken by Angel’s bubbly personality, becomes her love interest. But Angel lives in her own world of fantasy making up stories out of tragedies to suit her image and visions of her past and present.

Life’s bed of roses soon disappear for Angel as she finds her personal problems interfere with her writing and her positive outlook on life. Garai is phenomenal in her role and she’s almost reminiscent of a young Cate Blanchett. Her love story with Esme is interesting as it provides for a stark contrast to her imaginative and romantic novels which she wanted her life to mirror.

Ozon has captured Edwardian England with its societal mores well. Angel is a delightful story about the angst of an artist, the pangs of love, insanity and morality in an era more focused on style rather than substance. Angel’s fantasy land, the quirkiness of the characters, the typical English humour and the tragic tale make this small film a treat to watch.

Sailesh Ghelani

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Re: Reviews

Post by Admin on Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:52 pm

http://www.expats.cz/prague/article/film-cinema/now-in-prague-cinemas-26-7-07/

Angel

Directed by François Ozon. Staring Romola Garai, Lucy Russell, Sam Neill, Michael Fassbender, Charlotte Rampling, Jacqueline Tong, Janine Duvitski, Christopher Benjamin. Written by Ozon, from the novel by Elizabeth Taylor.

An uneasy mixture of camp satire and lurid melodrama, François Ozon’s Angel remains aloof – just like its lead character – for the duration. Based on the 1957 novel by Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress), itself (supposedly) a satire of the Douglas Sirk-esque melodramas of the time, the film mostly plays things deceptively straight; but there’s more here than a first glance indicates. Romola Garai stars as Angel Deverell, an entirely self-absorbed teen who improbably becomes an overnight sensation with the publication of her romance novels. We follow Angel as she purchases Paradise, the estate she dreamed of living in as a child, falls in love with and marries bitter painter Esmé (Michael Fassbender), whose ‘smudge painting’ works couldn't be different from her fantasy romances, and lives in her own world despite the realities that surround her. She refuses to change a thing in her initial novel (despite clear errors, such as opening champagne with a corkscrew), and refuses to change anything about her self-centered ways, up to the bitter end; Ozon goes out of his way to paint this character as unsympathetic, and challenges us throughout the film to resolve our feelings about her. Garai is remarkable in the lead; while the character is never likable, her spoiled-little-rich-girl Angel is utterly believable. Taken at face-value, the movie is awful; an ironically straight, emotionally empty melodrama that layers on the schmaltz with lush cinematography and overbearing musical crescendos that hammer home every detail (not to mention the dime-store romance plot); but look closer: Ozon has faithfully recreated the kind of fantasy world that Angel has trapped herself in. While at times the satire is obvious (especially during amusingly retro rear-projection honeymoon scenes), the director otherwise downplays everything so much that many will miss the point entirely. A thought-provoking film that knowingly presents itself as empty as its lead character; challenging and rewarding, but less successful as entertainment. The kind of love-it-or-hate-it film that I fully respect but feel strangely indifferent about. An interesting (if more modest and less successful) companion piece to Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven.

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Re: Reviews

Post by Admin on Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:53 pm

http://lookinggoodinpants.blogspot.com/2011/01/on-weaning-or-i-think-you-left-your.html

Monday, January 3, 2011
ON WEANING; or, I THINK YOU LEFT YOUR 2010 AT MY APARTMENT

i had a movie to watch -- and the epiphany isn't until next sunday anyway.

"angel" opens in wintertime in early twentieth century england, which meant for me a dickensonian charm that kept me afloat in cheeriness until angel, a young woman writer alive primarily in her imagination, could find fame and success and marry esmé, a gambler, drinker, expressionist painter and lothario played by michael fassbender (yes, he takes it off), who is the contrast by which we're given to see the paucity of angel's romanticism (and of our own a christmas carol fantasies). she has such a nice house, though, and so many dresses! i probably wouldn't read her books, but she certainly makes the dream of the fallen aristocrat (actual or imagined) come true. esmé's side of the story is necessarily bleaker, but both characters raise important questions about knowledge and art, even if the realities they lived were never the same.

grasping and solipsistic? whatever. that's what got me to sleep (and ozon isn't anything to kick out of bed), which i realized was the solution from the beginning. had i just continued sleeping, i wouldn't have had to regret oversleeping my agenda. so i'll resolve to keep at that. come find me in bed. i'll deal with 2011 on another morning.
Posted by Christopher at 12:35 PM

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