Angelica full movie review - Lacking Balance
It is unfortunate that Angelica lacks the bite of Lichtenstein's previous film, Teeth - excuse the terrible pun.
Despite exploring the similar theme of women empowerment through sexual control, the humor misses its mark, leaving the shell of irony in its place. The fitting Victorian background to this tale, well captured throughout, does not suffice to make the film worth recommending.
The story tells us of a mother's confession, Constance, who while lying on her deathbed admits to harbouring a dark secret from her daughter, Angelica. We go back to Angelica's conception as the fruit of a healthy, passionate marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Barton, which sadly leaves the to-be mother in a state that does not allow her to go through another childbirth. With contraception methods poorly at hand, that leaves abstinence as the sole means of ensuring Constance's good health. This results in a gaping void between the pair, where passion is replaced by restrained desire and mutual frustration. Moreover, as she faces her guilt of both being immoral in her pursuits and incapable of pleasing herself and her husband, a dark presence appears that plagues her nights, as she looks to protect her daughter.
Unfortunately, the obstacles in turning the source novel into a novel film offering fails on most counts. First and foremost, in finding the thin line between clever irreverence and irrelevance, guarding the experience of the film as either something frightening, or something comical. Perhaps Drag Me to Hell highlights what this looks like when done successfully - and even in such a case, opinions are divided. Secondly, Jenna Malone labours to offer a conflicted performance as a British 19th century wife, but her efforts are consistently undermined as she appears around characters ridiculous in features or in speech. Finally, it's hard to feel for the fate of Constance and Angelica, as they fail to be more than the sum of this movie's parts - mundane and full of painful restraint.
Lichtenstein is not able to find a balance in this story, mixing modern morality into his somber settings, thereby loosening the movie's grip of its characters. The rare moments of authentic playfulness or artfulness are drowned in an otherwise typical period piece, that looks fine - and that's about it.