The Face of an Angel

Directed by Michael Winterbottom
Starring Daniel Brühl, Kate Beckinsale and Cara Delevingne
In UK Cinemas March 27th, 2015

by Joanna Orland

While based on the true crime story of the Amanda Knox trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher, The Face of an Angel is a much more high level take on the truth of the story.  Modeled on Dante’s Inferno, the film explores the media’s fascination with crime and how the story is presented to the world, in addition to the ideas of love and loss.  It is as pretentious as it sounds, if not more so.

Thomas (Brühl) is a filmmaker wanting to tell the story of the Knox trial, portrayed in this film as fictionalized renamed characters. The character of Thomas is directly based on the film writer’s experience in investigating this story in order to adapt it into a movie. He found writing dialogue between Knox and Kercher difficult, so started to incorporate his own perspective into the story. From his perspective, the journalists covering the trial were getting “sucked down a plug hole into the inferno” of this unsolvable mystery, and so begins the intertwining of Dante’s work into this true crime story that focuses on the sensationalism of the media.

Parallels are drawn between the journalists and the students Knox and Kercher. The stories intertwine as does Thomas’.  Winterbottom places Thomas in the middle of this circus to clarify that filmmakers are also part of the media and not exempt from criticism. Who are we to decide who is innocent or guilty – surely this should remain for the courts to decide without our interference and influence.

In addition to the fictionalized and very abstract portrayal of this infamous true crime story, there are also the themes of love and loss at the heart of this film, and Winterbottom honours the victim Kercher, someone who has been very much overlooked in the circus of it all. Where is the media empathy towards the Kerchers and why is all of the attention on Knox?

There are good things about this film and there are frustrating things about this film. Overall, it is a depressing, debate-sparking examination of the media’s obsession with crime and their irresponsible methods of reporting the news.

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