Wednesday, October 31, 2007

London Film Fest Day 15 - ANGEL is a fiasco

ANGEL takes the prize for biggest fiasco of London 2007. It's also the only movie I walked out of - after 90 minutes of its 135 minute run-time. I simply couldn't take any more.

Francois Ozon has adapted Elizebeth Taylor's novel about a head-strong, self-centred young girl who turns herself into a famous novelist almost by sheer will alone. Her novels are pure trash - romantic melodramas reminiscent of Barbara Cartland. She becomes rich, buys a husband, has a Sapphic personal assistant (his sister), and the country house of her dreams. But during World War One she turns pacifist, loses readers and her husband's love.

Ozon's movie is a vulgar pastiche of the genre of novel that Angel writes. This is no loving, gentle parody or sensitive reinterpretation in the manner of Todd Haynes' FAR FROM HEAVEN. Rather, it is a simple-minded send-up that sneers at the genre and raises cheap laughs from an audience complicit in its sneering. Sets are over-done; costumes are ridicuolous; the orchestral score is all soaring strings; the actors ham it up for all its worth; the dialogue is (presumably deliberately) absurd.

One does, of course, laugh at the deliberately ropy back-projection shot of Angel and her publisher riding in an open-top carriage past the Houses of Parliamnent. But after around 45 minutes the one-note humour and banality of the central conceit of this film become boring beyong belief.

This film is a sad waste of an admirable cast and the proven ability of Ozon. In 8 WOMEN he modernised and subverted genre cinema to great effect. By contrast, ANGEL is just a worthless piss-take.

ANGEL played Berlin, Toronto and London 2007. It opened in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Russia, Germany, Austria, Poland, Lithuania and Italy earlier this year. It opens in Turkey and Australia in November and in Japan in December. It opens in Singapore on January 31st 2008.

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