There are an infinite number of ways to open a film, but few are as effective as letting the tone of the film unfold while the credits grace the screen. By allowing the moments of unsettling uncertainty materialize on screen a somber deposition of what will come next ignites an intrigue within the audience. From that moment, the thirst for knowledge of the story has captivated the viewer. Michael Lichtenstein’s new film, Angelica, does just that, and is an exploration through the unknown that you thrive to be a part of.
Angelica is a film about Constance (Jena Malone) and Dr. Joseph Barton (Ed Stoppard), who despite coming from different economic worlds in Victoria London are in love. Just as their life is about to get underway with the birth of their daughter, unforeseen medical circumstances threaten their vitality. It’s not long until conditions seem to become beyond repair and take a turn into the transcendental. Leading to the ultimate question of sanity and deception.
Limited knowledge of the film will be beneficial. The beauty of this movie lies in the unknown, both for the story and your understanding of the film as it unfolds. There are too many times when trailers, articles, or even reviews give too much of the construction of a film away. In this case, less knowledge is better and it creates a bond between you and the character as you both experience the mysterious events together.
The mystery of the story, of what really happened to Angelica’s parents, has been tugging at your interest from the moment the film begins. The veiled tone continues to spin its web around the film’s plot as we are introduced to the diverse characters. There is an uncomfortable disposition among the interaction with these individuals, and it’s not long before you realize there is something brewing underneath the surface. The contempt that Angelica feels for her mother is palpable, and adds to the intrigue.
As the story unfolds, the connections to the characters increase as Constance begins to tell the tale of her former life. The life that Constance and Joseph are trying to build is based on admiration for each other, a pure sentiment that you want to win above all else. Knowing where Angelica is now, and going back to where it all began is the perfect start to the story. With every turn of the story something new is introduced that adds to the complicated story of the lovers. Two paths are born from within their interaction, and you have to decide which is the authentic account. At times it’s hard to decide which is real, but that just adds to the quest of uncovering the film.
Angelica is a guessing game, but is only achieved by the convincing confusion shown through Constance as played by Malone. Malone is versed in a wide range of genres, and she uses all her tricks to construct a robust character, two actually, as she plays both Angelica and Constance. The story is captivating because Malone allows it to unfold through her eyes. The great thing about Malone is that she disappears within her characters, allowing for the audience to do the same. She respects her character’s complexities and stays true to them throughout the film. You may not know what will happen to the character’s story, but you know that it’s a journey you want to be on.
Angelica is based on a novel by Arthur Phillips, so the film can’t take full credit for the setting of the film, but Victoria London plays such an important part in adding to the atmosphere of the circumstances. We take for granted the time period we live in, where knowledge and understanding of the world plays a major role in our daily life. However, in the Victorian era, so much of the humanity was concealed. The mystery of the story mimics the mystery of the world they are in. As with most conundrums, the detective in us bubbles to the surface trying to solve the riddle, but in a well fabricated world, we begin to question our deductions. The time periods afford us the opportunity for exploration, of story and self, and that’s the best film journey to be a part of.
Angelica is the perfect blend of intriguing story and compelling characters that keeps the audience interested for its duration. Jena Malone breaths complicated life into her characters, and it’s hard not to be connected to her plight as she seeks for truth. The answers you seek might not always be the ones that set you free.
Angelica has a limited run, so check your local listings for dates and times.
Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Prodigy PR