Review: ‘The Angel’

A lyrically shot tale of addiction and dysfunctional families.

Style trumps story in “The Angel,” a lyrically shot tale of addiction and dysfunctional families. Feature debut by noted Norwegian documaker Margreth Olin (“Raw Youth,” “My Body”) grew out of a nonfiction project about a heroin-addicted friend that she abandoned out of concern for the subject. During the pic’s first half, sensual images and poetic montage make it more attractive than other junkie movies, but at the 45-minute mark, the style changes and things go rapidly downhill. Scandi co-production scored some 90,000 admissions in Norway but, outside Nordic countries, its best bet are fests and ancillary.

Lea (Maria Bonnevie) makes an extremely bad impression on her baby daughter’s foster parents before the pic flashes back to the protag’s youth. From the wrong side of the tracks, she grows up in a small house on the edge of the forest. When Lea’s father dies, her fragile mother, Madelene (Gunilla Roor), takes up with jealous alcoholic Ole (Antti Reini). Unable to prevent Madelene from being beaten, Lea winds up as a substance abuser. Casting is problematic with star Bonnevie, though strong, looking too old for her part relative to the other thesps.

The Angel



A Sandrew Metronome Norge (in Norway) release of a Speranza (Norway)/Migma Film (Sweden)/Periferia Prods. (Finland) production, with participation of SVT, YLE, NRK. (International sales: TrustNordisk, Hvidore, Denmark.) Produced by Thomas Robsahm. Directed, written by Margreth Olin.


Camera (color), Kim Hiorthoy; editor, Helge Billing; music, Thomas Robsahm; production designer, Eva Isacsson; costume designer, Karen Fabritius-Gram. Reviewed at Gothenburg Film Festival (Nordic competition), Feb. 6, 2010. (Also in Toronto Film Festival, Discovery.) Original title: Engelen. Norwegian dialogue. Running time: 95 MIN.


Maria Bonnevie, Gunilla Roor, Antti Reini.
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