Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. United Kingdom/Belgium/France, 2007. Fidélité Productions, Poisson Rouge Pictures, SCOPE Invest, FOZ, Virtual Films, Wild Bunch, France 2 Cinema, Celluloid Dreams, Canal+, TPS Star, Soficinéma 3, Soficinema 2, Scope Pictures. Screenplay by Francois Ozon, dialogue by Francois Ozon, Martin Crimp, based on the novel by Elizabeth Taylor. Cinematography by Denis Lenoir. Produced by Olivier Delbosc, Marc Missonnier. Music by Philippe Rombi. Production Design by Katia Wyszkop. Costume Design by Pascaline Chavanne. Film Editing by Muriel Breton. Toronto International Film Festival 2007.
Blind ambition succeeds when the daughter of a widowed grocer, the heroine of the title, clings furiously to her plan to become a famous writer despite her humble beginnings. Writing constantly and oblivious to other concerns in her life, Angel eventually submits a collection of notebooks to various printers and is accepted by an optimistic publisher (Sam Neill) who sees a market for her romantic adventures. His notion is correct and the book is an instant success, followed by a series of bestsellers that make Angel extremely wealthy and put everyone in the service of her selfish demands. The snake creeps into the garden, however, when her love for a painter (Michael Fassbender), whose sister (the exceptional Lucy Russell of Rohmer’s The Lady and The Duke) is her assistant, gives her more reality to deal with than she ever expected. Francois Ozon has an incredible knack for recreating old, kitschy Hollywood melodramas in a film that skillfully plays it straight but always keeps a subtle edge of self-mocking humour just below the surface. There’s no escaping, however, that the story is a little bit less than compelling and the main character is way over the top: spunky and driven we adore in our protagonists (particularly when they’re young women), but Angel is obnoxious and abrasive, sometimes downright ignorant, and Romola Garai doesn’t quite succeed in making her likable in spite of her faults. Adapted from the novel by romance novelist Elizabeth Taylor (no, not the movie star).