ANGEL OF MINE (2019)
Starring Noomi Rapace, Yvonne Strahovski, Luke Evans, Finn Little, Annika Whiteley, Richard Roxburgh, Indi Serafin, Rob Collins, Rachel Gordon, Emily Gruhl, Tracy Mann, Mirko Grillini, Ayeshah Rose, Pip Miller, Vivienne Perry, Rebecca Bower, Irene Chen, Genevieve Salinas and Audrey Salinas.
Screenplay by Luke Davies and David Regal.
Directed by Kim Farrant.
Distributed by Lionsgate. 98 minutes. Rated R.
Angel of Mine stakes out an uncomfortable middle ground between thriller and psychological drama and never quite reaches a satisfying compromise. It’s a well-done and often gripping film, but I think the movie would have perhaps worked better if it ventured further into the dark or the light of the situation instead of mucking about in the grays.
The movie revolves around perhaps the most horrific thing that can happen to any parent. Lizzie (Noomi Rapace) and Mike (Luke Evans) lost their newborn daughter in a tragic hospital fire which killed 12 people – including mothers and babies.
The story of Angel of Mine starts seven years later. In fact, though there are some hints throughout, the actual death of their daughter is not acknowledged until over half-way through the film. All these years later, Lizzie is still the walking wounded, her obsessive grief having broken up her marriage, estranged her from her still-living son (Finn Little) who wants to move in with dad full time. She spent a year in an asylum and is still seeing a psychiatrist who is prescribing meds that she is not taking. It’s also got her stuck in a dead-end retail job, unable to date and has strained her relationship with her supportive parents.
One day at a party for one of her son’s friends, Lizzie sees Lola (Annika Whiteley), a little girl who looks exactly like what she imagines her little girl would look like now. Lizzie becomes more and more obsessed with the idea that this is somehow her daughter who had been spirited out of the hospital.
Lizzie befriends Claire (Yvonne Strahovski), the little girl’s mother, and insinuates herself into the family’s life. She spends more and more time stalking the family, particularly showing up over and over when Lola is alone. Eventually Claire notices that her new friend is a bit creepy and tries to sever ties with her, but Lizzie refuses to back off.
Right off the bat, this whole situation creates a bit of a problem as far as the audience’s sympathies go. Is Lizzie a scary psychopath, or is she just a pathetic, lost and broken woman with somewhat understandable psychological problems?
And, honestly, it’s a little hard to look at Lizzie as a danger to anyone but herself. She dotes over the little girl, mitigating worries in the audience that she will hurt Lola. One scene does almost throw that feeling off, Lizzie pulls out a pair of scissors near the sleeping girl. But even then, she is only thinking of cutting off a lock of hair for DNA – a violation to be sure, but not a violent or dangerous one.
Conversely, Claire’s inability to feel for the woman when she hears her whole story makes her a bit harder to like. I mean, I get it, she’s a mother and must be fierce in protecting her children, but she could have been a bit more empathetic towards her plight. By all means break off any contact with Lizzie (which won’t be hard because they are in the middle of moving to another city), but is it necessary to yell at her and tell her she is crazy?
Of course, Lizzie’s crazy meter sometimes seems to go up and down due to plot points. She never seems completely sane, but only in the later scenes does she totally go over the top, and at one point she goes from crazy to sane in a way that is hard to buy, no matter what the plot points suggest.
The truth is, sometimes twist endings work and sometimes they don’t, and I had trouble buying into Angel of Mine’s climactic reveal. If anything, this turn made the film a little lesser in my mind, rather than making it better.
However, through most of the running time it is a solid modern urban nightmare and certainly will keep your attention.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2019 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 30, 2019.