Angel

Directed by François Ozon
  • France, UK, Belgium
  • 119 minutes
  • 2007

They don’t make them like this any more – but that hasn’t stopped the intrepid François Ozon, who’s come up with possibly the most unexpected film of an unpredictable career. Based on Elizabeth Taylor’s novel, Angel is a rags-to-riches melodrama in the high style.

Set in Edwardian England from 1905 onwards, it traces the career of would-be novelist Angel Deverell (Romola Garai), whose blithe innocence of the ways of the world doesn’t stop her pen from spilling forth torrid romantic fantasies in the purplest ink. Angel’s literary career is a runaway success, and the headstrong ingénue becomes the Barbara Cartland of her time. Wealth, fame and love come her way, but the one thing that continues to evade Angel is wisdom. Garai is spirited, affecting and finally troubling in a role that might have honoured Bette Davis in her youthful heyday.

Angel is a knowing anachronism, harking back to the Hollywood ‘women’s picture’ embodied by Sirk, Minnelli and Cukor, but doing so with love and intelligence rather than kitsch intent.

Jonathan Romney, London Film Festival Programme

Romola Garai, Lucy Russell, Michael Fassbender, Sam Neill, Charlotte Rampling