“Mom! That ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ is staring through the gate again!”
Words NOBODY wants to hear. Even if you’re a fan of the original “Girl,” Noomi Rapace, being a bit afraid of her, in or out of character as Lisbeth Salander, is part of the bargain.
In “Angel of Mine,” Rapace stars as another “Lisbeth.” Only this Lisbeth is called “Lizzy,” she’s Australian and she’s mad in the saddest way you can imagine.
It’s all going wrong for her. Newly-divorced, losing custody of her 12 year-old son (Finn Little), low woman in the pecking order at the makeup store in the mall, it never ends.
“You haven’t been doing so great,” is all the ex (Luke Hemsworth) can say. He’s not rubbing it in. Their son “feels your darkness, Lizzy!”
No wonder she’s shaking prescription pills out of the bottle when we first see her.
Lizzy is carrying a terrible burden, one which has taken over her life, ended her marriage and threatens her tenuous relationship with her boy. It’s when she takes the kid to a birthday party at a friend’s house that the mystery starts to unravel.
She fixates on a beautiful little girl there, and Lola (Annika Whiteley) becomes the driving obsession of her life.
Rapace gives Lizzy an offhand caginess that serves her well as she lies to the child’s mother, Claire (Yvonne Strahovski) about being interested in buying their house, about being still married, about being manager of that makeup store.
Every time Claire’s back is turned, Lizzy is with Lola. “We look alike!”
Her ex is over it, her son complains of her “crying all the time…You never get anything done.”
But Lizzy has something she WILL get done, in the “Hand that Rocks the Cradle” tradition.
Director Kim Farrant (Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes’ “Strangerland” was hers) tries to maintain suspense, and when there’s a little girl in perceived jeopardy, that shouldn’t be hard to do.
But Rapace has this brittle vulnerability that comes through, even when you’re scared of her. We pity Lizzy, hope against hope she won’t cross yet ANOTHER line with this family she’s stalking, wait for an intervention, expect her to get help.
I found myself rooting for her not to get yelled at, not to be found out in her furtive surveillance (stalking). She is, after all, the Girl/Woman with the Dragon You-Know-What — scary, and sympathetic.
The only real twists to this tale are ridiculously easy to predict, as they seem as recycled as the rest of the movie. They take a turn towards “Let’s surprise them, even if it’s the most gutless direction to take the movie in.”
Rapace is always good, in big budget features or films of more modest budget and ambitions, like this Australian production. She and Strahovski pair up as rivals so well that you say a silent prayer that the picture doesn’t lose its nerve.
But of course, it does.
MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexuality and brief nudity
Credits: Noomi Rapace, Luke Hemsworth, Yvonne Strahovski, Annika Whiteley
Credits: Directed by Kim Farrant, script by Luke Davies, David Regal. A Lionsgate release.
Running time: 1:37