Angel Deverell comes of age in Edwardian Cheshire knowing she will be a great writer. Rising above her class (her widowed mother has a grocery shop), Angel finds a publisher and a wide audience for her frothy romances. With royalties, she buys an estate, then she's smitten by Esme, a rake from local aristocracy and an artist of dark temperament. She hires Esme's sister Nora, who dotes on her, as a personal assistant, and pursues Esme. Angel is grandly self-centered, coloring her world as if it were one of her novels. When the Great War breaks out and reality begins to trump her will, can Angel hold on to her man and her public? Written by
Angel Deverell (Romola Garai) imagines herself to be a writer. Night after night she writes of her imaginative world. At school, she is ridiculed for her fantasies, and her mother (Jacqueline Tong) has no idea of her talent. A London publisher Theo (Sam Neill), publishes her first book despite her arrogance and his reservations. The novel is a bestseller. She writes another and another and another, and so on.
At the height of her fame, she meets the painter Esmé (Michael Fassbender), and is immediately stuck, even if he is even more arrogant that she is. And, sad to say, more untalented.
This is the key to this film. It is a satire of those stories of the period. There are only two serious people in the film. The rest are caricatures of popular characters and settings.
British writer Elizabeth Taylor's novel, based upon Marie Corelli, a long-forgotten English novelist of the 19th Century, was translated to the screen by François Ozon (Swimming Pool, 8 Women), who also directed. He certainly captured the ego Corelli was reputed to have.
The life she lived or the life she dreamed? That is the question of this film. There is no doubt that for a few brief moments, Angel was never in touch with reality. It makes for great satire.
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