Suzy's a British soldier, born and bred, but fitting back into civilian life after fighting in Iraq isn't easy. Haunted by the responsibility she feels for the death of an Iraqi child, she ... See full summary »
Dark Angel (2016) was apparently seen in England as a two-part TV miniseries. We saw it as a full-length TV movie. It was directed by Brian Percival.
Joanne Froggatt plays Mary Ann Cotton, England's first known female serial killer. There's no suspense here--the movie opens with the protagonist being led to the gallows. The movie then circles back to explain to us how events brought Mary Ann Cotton to her execution.
Joanne Froggart must have been delighted to play this macabre role. All those years at Downton Abbey left her with the reputation as playing a fine person with a pure heart. Now she gets to play a far heavier role. She does a fabulous job with the part--you really do believe that she could, and would, murder people in order to get what she wanted.
As portrayed in the movie, Mary Ann Cotton wasn't a demon, and she didn't start out with a view towards murdering her way forward. Victorian times were repressive for women, and a bad marital choice left a woman on her own with no obvious opportunity for escape. I'm sure many women dreamed about getting out of an unhappy marriage by murdering their husband. However, dreaming is one thing, and arsenic is another.
It was easier to avoid detection as a serial killer at a time when many people died young of natural causes. Death was everywhere, and arsenic was readily available. (It was used to control vermin.) Apparently, it's still possible to buy arsenic. Here's a headline from The Guardian Newspaper: "Toxic chemicals such as strychnine, arsenic and cyanide are freely available for sale on the internet, leading toxicologists have warned." Not a happy thought.
There's hardly a cheerful moment in this movie, and yet I enjoyed it. Joanne Froggatt is a brilliant actress. Freed from ensemble work, she can show the breadth and depth of her talent. Even if the film is depressing, it's still worth seeing just to watch Froggatt act.
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