The Angel (El Ángel)
Life is meant to be enjoyed, no? So why not do whatever we want, whenever we want, and have fun while we’re at it. Such is the theory of 1970s angel-faced thief and killer Carlitos Robledo, and such is the refreshingly youthful, free-spirited ethos of this film. Director Luis Ortega’s The Angel is pure enjoyment – a moment of hedonism so rarely granted but so desperately needed. The viewer is invited into the experience of a reckless youth with such joie de vivre they almost forget all of the senseless murder as they find they’re laughing out loud in spite of themselves.
Our beautiful protagonist, Carlitos (Lorenzo Ferro), roams the streets of Buenos Aires like he owns them. He’s a master thief, effortlessly nicking motorcycles and cars just for the fun of it. There’s a carelessness to his crimes that makes him a wonderfully sympathetic character. He’s not motivated by greed he just likes the rush, which, as he affirms later on, we all do. There’s a release in living vicariously through him that we so seldom get to experience and it’s invigorating. He befriends the tough-guy from school, Ramon (Chino Darín), who immediately brings him to meet his ex-con father (Daniel Fanego) and his kind but mischievous mother (Mercedes Moran). Together they stage a variety of heists around the city, pulling everything from guns to art to jewelery. Carlitos has a disregard for consequence, living every moment fully, which is both inspiring and problematic.
What’s so incredible about The Angel is how every single element is used to further build the world of the film. There’s a playfulness to the shots and their composition. Clearly inspired by the cinema of the 1970s, the images manage to feel both retro yet distinctly young and fresh. Similarly, the soundtrack kills with classics such as a Spanish-language version of House of the Rising Sun, which so perfectly supports the film’s spirit. Carlitos mentions being out of mayo in one scene and later passes by a mayonnaise advert on the freeway and it’s such an insignificant thing but one that demonstrates the enormous amount of attention paid to the details. One would also be remiss not to mention the homoeroticism that’s cheekily layered throughout but that the main character never explicitly acts on. It’s his world and it’s outrageous and cocky and endearing and sexy and funny. It’s simply wonderful.
If the whole theory of this film is that life is meant to be enjoyed, they hit the nail on the head.
The Angel (El Ángel) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.