François Ozon’s first full English-language feature is an affectionate tribute to the ‘Women’s Picture’ of the ’40s and ’50s. Thankfully, those cinemagoers who couldn’t tell Douglas Sirk’s oeuvre from the back end of a donkey have nothing to fear – in fact, they’ll probably enjoy this more thanks to their ignorance. Set in Edwardian England, it stars Atonement’s Romola Garai as Angel, a teenage writer of torrid romances who’s moulded into a literary darling by her publisher (Sam Neill). Like Ozon’s 8 Women, the costumes are magnificent and Angel’s mansion is a shrine to the gods of bad taste. All that’s missing is a heroine worthy of Bette Davis in her heyday. Garai is perfectly bratty as young Angel, but she never matures into a stronger, ballsier, more sympathetic woman. The Grande Dame would have eaten her alive...
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