Face of an angel, but has Cara Delevingne the talent to act?

A film based on the Meredith Kercher murder is a challenging first role for the supermodel
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The Independent Culture

The names and places in the film may have changed, but the identity of the celebrity at the centre of the red-carpet attraction is unmistakeable. British model Cara Delevingne's first major big screen role as a character inspired by the murdered British student Meredith Kercher kept her front and centre of attention in Toronto last night.

Delevingne stars in The Face of an Angel, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. British film-maker Michael Winterbottom has changed the name of the characters and the action has been moved from Perugia to Sienna, but the elements of the case are all the same. Set in 2007, a British student, Elizabeth Pryce, is found dead in her apartment and the prime suspects are her American flatmate and her Italian boyfriend.

In this fictional account, a film-maker called Thomas, seemingly based on Winterbottom himself, journeys to Italy to make a film based on a book written on the trial by a journalist called Simone Ford – a character based on Barbie Latza Nadeau, who wrote Angel Face, about covering the real-life trial.

Thomas meets Melanie, played by Delevingne. Like Kercher, she's a seemingly carefree student, working in a bar in Italy. She introduces him to the town's youth scene.

Winterbottom said that he wanted the character to embody what life might have been like for the dead girl. "In a way, it's Elizabeth more than Meredith. It's a version of Meredith, as embodied by Elizabeth. So we didn't actually borrow specifics from Meredith's life. But I think the film is about the father and the family's love for Elizabeth, who has been killed."

The director said that he employed Delevingne because "Cara embodies certain qualities, an idea of optimism, the spirit of happiness and energy, and all the things that these people have lost because of [Elizabeth's] absence".

Delevingne said she wasn't aware of the parallels while filming: "I wasn't really aware of being Meredith when I was playing the part. You see the mirrors in it … everything is linked, as in life – the relationships, they are all mirrored."

Winterbottom chose the model for the part after being made aware of her interest in acting by a friend. "I met with her, and knew immediately that I wanted Cara to do the role. It's lucky she wanted to. I don't think it's a quality you can act."

Critics said Delevingne's performance was impressive for an actress whose previous screen experience was a small role in Joe Wright's 2012 film Anna Karenina.