Thursday, March 19, 2009
Angel. Feature film. (2007, 135 mins) IMDB
ased on a novel, ANGEL tells the story of a young working-class girl in England during the early parts of the 1900s. Her father is dead. While her mother runs a simple grocery store, Angel dreams of fame and fortune. She gets it, but at what price? And how?
It seems impossible at first. At a school she is asked to read her homework assignment--a writing assignment. Her teacher scolds her on the lack of authenticity, but that doesn't stop her.
She writes and writes and writes and ends up with a novel. She sends it off to publishers in London who show interest, and off to London she goes.
When asked about her favourite writers, she replies she doesn't read. She spends her spare time playing the harp. Very odd.
Having written several novels, I find it odd for her to say she never reads and at a young age, publishers want to publish her novel. I suppose it happens, but then again so did the big bang. Once. (As far as we know.)
There's an interesting scene where she meets with her would-be publisher played by Sam Neil. He offers some suggestions on how to improve it. She flatly refuses. She writes literature. As we learn that's absurd. She writes romances and at her age, the changes-to-be-made should be many, but no, she won't have it. Even when he points out you don't need a corkscrew to open a champagne bottle, she is immovable. This is not a typical woman. She lives in a dream. An optimist.
I was never sure what to make of this film. Farce? Drama? Comedy? After seeing it, I'm still not sure. There is certainly a three-act structure.
This young girl never gains our confidence and hopes. She's a what?...A bitch? A user? Well, she's someone who rises and surely will fall and does.
Her rise happens quickly. One book leads to many and with it lots of money. Soon she buys an expansive estate called Paradise. Instead of serving on others, she has many attendants.
Most of the second act deals with her publishing and her love affair with a cad and eventual marriage. WWI comes to spoil the party.
What I found surprising is the fact she was as virginal and innocent at the start of the film as she was as the end. I was expecting some major dream reveal, but apparently we're supposed to believe all that happens in the film.
Sam Neil spends his entire time holding back knowing it's better to say nothing if you can't say something nice. I think he was also wondering about whether his cheque cleared.
I don't mean to disparage the actors, because I don't believe it's their fault. At times I wondered if this was a TV movie. The obvious blue-screen shots where cheesy. The over-the-top melodramatics shouted: this is TV. But while it seemed to play for one way (farce, TV), it kept going another way saying this is serious drama. When it was over, I wondered what they were thinking and what would others think?
I still wonder if it was all a dream. Maybe when I get up in the morning, I'll find this file doesn't exist.
Posted 2009/03/19 at 18h28ET in Movie Commentary.