Angel of Mine is disturbing and sad in all the wrong ways. A cast who have shown themselves to be able in other roles have to struggle to keep the dialogue in this wooden script afloat, while the plot itself is cringy to the end. Who green-lit this?! (GPG: 1/5).
Review by FF2 Contributing Editor Giorgi Plys-Garzotto
If Angel of Mine is trying to make a statement about mental health, then that statement is as incoherent as the plot itself. Ditto for issues like motherhood, divorce, etc. Angel of Mine follows divorced mother Lizzie (Noomi Rapace), whose marriage and family fell apart after the tragic death of her daughter. Lizzie struggles to keep up her connection with her son as she works a dead end job and navigates divorce proceedings wherein her husband is trying to get full custody—a full roster of problems without the delusion that one of her son’s classmates is actually her daughter, who has miraculously survived the fire in which she died. This hare-brained start to a wanna-be psychological thriller delivers nothing but queasy cringe moments from flat characters.
Mother characters are tough, considering the treatment mothers get in our culture as a whole. From parenting books to classic films, discussion of mothers tends to involve the implication that they’re crazy as a rule. Without revealing too much about my family, both extended and nuclear, I can vouch that mothers often are the carriers of Chernobyl level toxicity, making this whole conversation even more complicated. Suffice to say that as Noomi Rapace descends into maudlin madness over the course of this film, there’s a whole slew of #problematic stuff to work out. The question is, why try to work this film out when you can just not watch it? Even for the purpose of criticism, I do not recommend even a single viewing of this movie.
The mental health angle creates no better a reading of Angel of Mine than any other way to view this movie. If this film is meant to draw attention to the need for mental healthcare, especially for people our society doesn’t tend to care for in the same way as we do white men, then that’s laudable though failed effort at a positive message. The mental health issues of women, who tend not to react with violence to what they go through, is often sidelined in favor of the more showy issues of veterans or alt-righters on the internet. However, the incoherent treatment of Rapace’s character left me for one unsure what I was supposed to think of her reaction to her daughter’s death. Below is some discussion of the ending; I don’t consider it a problem to discuss spoilers for most of the review since my advice to you is not to see the movie!
SPOILER ALERT: The ending to this film was the most bizarre and least earned ending I’ve seen in a long time. The facts of the whole film up to the final scene are turned on their heads at the last minute to allow Lizzie to escape any kind of consequences for her actions. It turns out that the little girl really is her daugter, and she’s been right all along. The mother who tried to protect her child from a stalker is suddenly the villain, and Lizzie’s mental health problems appear to mysteriously disappear. Since she turns out to be right in the end, the film might not even consider her delusions to be mental illness at all. If Rapace is supposed to be mentally ill, then what conclusion is it for her to just get what she wants and never address the core issue? I guess you don’t need coping mechanisms when you can make your delusions miraculously come true!
The ending is the thing that makes this movie illegible rather than just bad. With this hairpin turn at the end, the message of the whole film up to the ending becomes reversed. Are we suddenly supposed to be glad that Rapace stalked a little girl who she had no reason to think was her own? It makes no sense to set up Rapace’s behavior as being so urgently unhealthy and then make it out to seem like all she needed was her child back. It’s much too big an ask for me as a viewer to believe that Rapace would suddenly be fine just from having her daughter back. The stalking was a symptom of a deeper issue, rather than a legitimate way to solve her problems, and Rapace’s actions toward the little girl and her family were no where near the only issues her character has in this film. We also see Rapace have a train wreck of a date where an attempt at hooking up becomes one of the cringiest scenes I’ve ever endured, and she loses her job in a scene that was almost as bad.
To make things even weirder, after the big reveal at the end the whole thing wraps up within a minute or two. How am I supposed to accept this twist out of left field when I get all of sixty seconds to see the aftermath? From the one scene we get, it seems like her husband has even decided not to divorce her! We don’t know all the details though, because there are barely any given. This makes sense, since it would be almost impossible to rationally explain how the situation could work itself out.
All in all, this movie would have been bad if it turned out the way everyone expected it to, and its attempt at a twist just made it weird in addition to being bad.
Q: Does Angel of Mine pass the Bechdel-Wallace test?
Yes, because Lizzie talks to the other mother in the movie about their kids, among other things.
Top Photo: Lizzie skating with the little girl she is obsessed with.
Middle Photo: On pretense of wanting to buy her family’s house, Lizzie gains entry to the little girl’s home.
Bottom Photo: Lizzie takes the little girl on a boat ride after insinuating herself into a school event.
Photo Credit: Magna Entertainment