I asked the DVR to record Angel’s Fall because I was so curious how Nora Roberts’ books would transform to movies. Considering that one of the strengths I enjoy in her books is the development of a character, flaws and all, over 300+ pages, I was very curious as to whether the characters would be as faceted in 120 minutes or less.
The short answer: of course not. But, that answer is entirely dependent on the actor. Heather Locklear does a marvelous job. Her costar didn’t come close to her abilities, and as a result the part that disappointed me the most was the romance – the mystery was interesting, but, like the imbalance in costar ability, the romance wasn’t nearly as compelling as the whodunit.
Below are my thoughts as I typed them out during the film. It’s not as coherent as if I’d written the whole thing in retrospect, but it’s after 10pm and I have the cough from hell and want my bed.
1. Heather Locklear has roots, and she STILL looks good. It’s not fair. It’s horribly not fair. She’s one of those women who can put her hair into what would look like the rattiest ponytail ever on me, and yet it’s elegant and perfect. Yeah, yeah, I know. Stylists on set. Still. Not fair.
She does a marvelous job with the visible insecurities, the manic and the passive terror. I haven’t read this book, either, so I’m going to have to go solely on the movie. (I’m asking the DVR to record the other movies, which are based on books I’ve read.)
2. The creative team behind the film made several clever decisions to show the lapse of time. It wasn’t just clouds flying across the sky at high speed, though there was some of that. There was also a time lapse shot of the menu changing to reflect her influence in the town restaurant, and some dramatic footage of seasonal changes as well. The cinematography was gorgeous. The location and the wide shots of the scenery made me wish I had Lifetime in high-def.
Moreover, the filming and cinematography were clever in that varying levels of overexposure were used to illustrate moments of Reese’s insecurity, such as when she suspects everyone is staring at her. The use of color and absence of color were used to fill in what can’t be shown in a book, and in this case, added depth to the film.
3. In the beginning, Reese’s flashbacks are revealing and tragic, and used to illustrate the storms going on in her mind. But at the end the overwhelming use of flashbacks was annoying and dragging instead of revealing or cause for sympathy.
4. The major flaw I noticed was the choppy and one-sided dialogue between the hero and the heroine. I thought Heather Locklear was marvelous, but I didn’t think there was enough buildup of sexual tension between her and the hero, played by Johnathon Schaech. She was often luminous in the role (again, I know, stylist on set), and easily communicated her frustration and her self-doubt. He was more often wooden, and somewhat bullying in his tone. Lines that were meant to be cajoling or inviting confidence – “Talk to me, Reese. Come on. You need someone to talk to.” – sounded pushy and demanding coming from him. Moreover, actions that he takes, such as searching for her on the internet, that could have been played as curiosity, or an empathetic need to understand her better, come across as somewhat creepy, even though he’s not really being developed as a suspect in the mystery.
I’ll admit, I never watched Dynasty or Melrose Place but knowing of the soapy nookie type shows that those were, I didn’t have high expectations of Locklear. Dallas, a soapy drama that I did watch, was many things, but a harbor of good acting was not one of them. Locklear was the person I had the most doubts about as an actor in the movie, and she beat everyone else with a stick in terms of ability.
Then there was the love scene, which had about eighteen thousand candles in it. I know that there’s a Nora cameo in each movie, and I was hoping it would be the love scene, where she walks in and says, “THIS IS NOT HOW I WROTE THIS SCENE! GET UP YOU SHAAAMELESS HUSSY.”
5. The other flaw: the music. It was heavy-handed on the creepy parts, but truthfully, and this is unfair, I don’t expect much from Lifetime movies. I understand the quality has improved recently, but I’m used to seeing some serious film drivel on Lifetime, particularly during the day, like “My Mother’s Sister’s Tumor: The Gangrielle Lobotoree Story.” There’s a certain amount of pathos – and by “certain amount” I mean about six tons too much – in Lifetime productions, so when compared to some of the other monstrosities I’ve seen on that channel, this was not too heavy on the bongos-of-danger, the strings-of-romance, and the tuba-of-drama.
This film does a good bit to work against my Lifetime prejudice, in fact. It was more creative in the filming than I’ve seen on that channel.
I’m not in the habit of rating movies here, but my grade on this one is a C+. The visuals would have brought it higher, as would have Locklear’s effort – I’m serious, she was pretty darn good – but the wooden hero and the overuse of flashbacks as a way to sustain tension drove it down.