The Face of an Angel

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Face of an Angel Movie Poster Image
Drifting, meaningless murder story based on true events.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 101 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Could be considered a warning against traveling in Europe -- or being a filmmaker -- but otherwise, it doesn't seem to have much of a point.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters mostly just wander around, rarely making decisions or doing much of anything.

Violence

Secondary character murdered. Bloody murder scene. Brief fight. Hallucinations: a woman stabbed in the back, a monster attack, a girl eats a human heart.

Sex

Sex between two main characters, twice; moaning heard, nothing shown. Naked breasts shown during a hallucination sex scene. A teen strips to her underwear to swim. The accused murderer's sex life is discussed.

Language

Several uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "prick," "bitch," "a--hole."

Consumerism

Maserati mentioned, Skype shown/mentioned several times.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main character snorts cocaine, drinks to excess, smokes pot, and smokes cigarettes -- on more than one occasion. Other characters drink and smoke cigarettes/pot.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Face of an Angel is a drama loosely inspired by the real-life 2007 Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher murder case. A bloody murder scene is shown; there's also fighting and some shocking hallucination scenes (a monster, a woman being stabbed, a girl eating a human heart). A secondary character dies. Sex scenes include moaning sounds and a shot of a woman's naked breasts. Language is strong, but not frequent, with several uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. The main character frequently drinks, smokes cigarettes and pot, and snorts cocaine; secondary characters are also seen drinking and smoking both cigarettes and pot. Despite the attractive stars and some lovely Italian scenery, the drifting, non-committal plot probably won't attract many teens.

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What's the story?

A film director, Thomas (Daniel Bruhl), meets with a journalist, Simone Ford (Kate Beckinsale), to discuss a movie version of a real-life murder case, which is still unfolding. One teen girl has been accused of killing another, and the trial is underway. Thomas tries to gather as many details as he can, traveling around and meeting with shady characters. He tries to Skype with his estranged daughter, has a fling with Simone, and then starts hanging around with the beautiful student Melanie (Cara Delevingne). He drinks, snorts cocaine, and has hallucinations. He decides that he doesn't want to tell a traditional "whodunit" story and eventually decides, while sitting by the beach, that nothing is knowable.

Is it any good?

It's an intriguing story, but the movie never arrives anywhere. Director Michael Winterbottom frequently focuses on serious, issue-driven stories, but this one -- inspired by the real-life 2007 Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher case -- seems content to wander off into meta-ness. At first, watching Bruhl search for clues and story ideas gives THE FACE OF AN ANGEL some kind of purpose, but as he hallucinates, changes his mind, and tries to find ways to not tell the story, the movie itself ends up not doing anything.

Winterbottom's realistic style and Italian locations give the movie some much-needed atmosphere, and the actors -- especially Beckinsale and Delevingne -- project a sense of international dislocation; they're travelers whose homes are everywhere and nowhere. It's possible to drift off with the movie's foggy mystique, but anyone interested in a story, themes, or ideas should look elsewhere.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Face of an Angel's violence. How is the murder depicted? Is it shocking? How much blood and gore is shown? What other kinds of violence does the movie show, and what affect do they have? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How close is this movie to the real-life 2007 Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher murder case? What parts do you think were altered/fictionalized? Why?

  • Why do you think the main character drinks, smokes, and does drugs so frequently? What drives him to do so? What solutions does he seek?

  • Why are we so fascinated with murder, murder stories, and murder trials?

  • What are the movie's themes? What does the main character discover about the story he wants to tell?

Movie details

For kids who love true stories

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