Review by Jacquelin Hipes
With Angel of Mine, an Australian-set remake of the 2008 French film L’empreinte de L’Ange, filmmaker Kim Farrant commits the cardinal sin of psychological thrillers: she made it boring. With a tighter script and a bit more ingenuity behind the lens, you might wind up with a compelling mystery. Barring those improvements, if you crank up the melodrama at least one gets left with entertaining camp. Instead Noomi Rapace is wasted as Lizzie, recently divorced and entangled in a custody battle with her ex-husband (a wasted Luke Evans) over their son Tom (Finn Little). Still grieving the loss of her daughter several years prior, Lizzie struggles at her job, at home, and on a lone date that takes a sharp turn towards disaster.
The only genuine focus she can muster comes with the presence of Lola (Annika Whiteley), the younger sister to one of Tom’s friends who bears a striking resemblance to her lost child. Unfortunately for Lizzie, this coincidence only spurs her to greater emotional distress, midnight stalking, and some awkward attempts to ingratiate herself with Lola’s parents (a wasted Yvonne Strahovski and Richard Roxburgh – noticing a pattern?).
Although Lizzie’s obsession leads her down an increasingly dark path, it fails to go anywhere particularly interesting. Given her conviction that Lola is, in fact, her child, it’s impossible to buy into the notion that Lizzie would ever act in a way that would cause her harm. As her actions turn repetitive, the tension that Rapace and Strahovski manage to wring from the script (partly credited to Luke Davies, who received a warm reception in the past for Lion and Beautiful Boy) quickly dissipates. By that point, a late third act twist almost feels inevitable.
Rapace and Strahovski are both more than worthy of the heft of a leading role. The former disappeared into the role of Lisbeth Salandar, arguably one of the most challenging female leads in the last decade, and the latter has made strides in every successive season of The Handmaid’s Tale, standing out in a strong ensemble cast. Neither has yet found sustainable, breakout success with American audiences…and unfortunately, Angel of Mine is unlikely to change that. One hopes that this aggressively tepid outing doesn’t impede them too much, either. There are enough (brief) flashes of promise in their scenes together to promise a far more electric match-up, under better-scripted circumstances.
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