Thursday, March 4, 2010

On-Demand: Safy Nebbou's ANGEL OF MINE with Frot and Bonnaire

Two expert perfor-
mances from French actresses Catherine Frot and Sandrine Bonnaire anchor ANGEL OF MINE (L'empreinte de l'ange), a film based on real events co-written (with Cyril Gomez-Mathieu) and directed by Safy Nebbou.  Although the title card telling us that this story is "real" does not ap-
pear until film's end, you may, as did TrustMovies, come to the same conclu-
sion earlier on.  This tale is simply too bizarre to be fiction.

Fortunately M. Nebbou (shown at right) has the good sense to let his story tell itself, slow-
ly and quietly building ques-
tions, along with suspense.  The filmmaker provides neither the bells nor the whistles -- overwrought music, copious tears, melodramatic moments -- usually supplied in a tale that, however close to reality it might be, still approaches what we moviegoers of many years used to call a "woman's weepie."  No: Safy elects to turn his movie into more of a mystery -- what's happening, and why? -- and then leave it in the hands of his actors who are good enough to carry it off.

All I'll say about the plot is that it concerns two families, the little girl that brings them together, stalking, possible insanity and a past fraught with a major event. The adult characters we see have clearly gone through a lot (though we viewers don't learn for awhile just what this has entailed), hence their gravity and suspicions.  The younger set, on the other hand, have been protected well by their parents and so are free to laugh, play and enjoy life to the hilt, which they do.  (Safy has drawn lovely performances from all three children: Héloïse Cunin, a newcomer who has the pivotal role, Arthur Vaughan-Whitehead and Zacharie Chasseriaud.)

Ms Bonnaire (from Vagabond through the upcoming Queen to Play), shown above and elsewhere on this post, is capable of just about anything, and that's what she gives us here, fielding it all like a pro. Ms Frot, below and elsewhere (fabulous in Chaos, The Page Turner and Les soeurs fâchées to name but three of her many films) remains clench-jawed and just this side of frightening throughout.  Her eyes are remarkably agile, however, and so we feel her pain.  When she finally relaxes, this arrives like a blessing on the audience.

In the fine supporting case are Wladimir Yordanoff (below, left, with Ms Bonnaire), Antoine Chappey and the wonderful Michel Aumont, filling their roles to its brim -- given the small amount of screen time each is offered.

Angel of Mine is available now On-Demand from IFC Films via most major TV reception providers. You can click here to learn if yours has the film -- and if so, how to get it.

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