Review: El Ángel

Set in Buenos Aires in 1971, El Ángel is a true crime drama about a baby-faced teenage sociopath named Carlitos (Lorenzo Ferro) whose love for thievery blossomed into a passion for cold-blooded murder when he met fellow student Ramon (Chino Darin). It’s a truly disturbing portrait of a kid totally devoid of a moral compass. And you’re on the edge of your seat the whole way because you just know he and his accomplices will (and should) be caught.

As the film begins, Carlitos is breaking into a house, but he doesn’t seem the least bit afraid of being discovered. He wanders through the rooms, as if he lived there, even taking the time to put on a record and dance for a while. Then at school he provokes a fight with good looking Ramon, and they soon become best friends. Ramon’s family are thieves and his junkie father schools Carlitos in shooting guns, and soon the three of them are pulling off burglaries around town. And though it seems like the first time Carlitos shoots someone, it may be an accident, from then on he casually shoots people all over the place. And along side this crime spree, he and Ramon gradually develop something of a homoerotic relationship. And of course it doesn’t end well.

The real Carlitos, Carlos Robledo Puch who the press dubbed “The Angel of Death” and is still incarcerated, said he thought Quentin Tarantino should film his life story. It would be a lot bloodier, but I don’t think it would work as well. The clinical way that Carlitos kills in the film feels like the way a sociopath would see his world and it is chilling. The performances are quite good and the period soundtrack, which included a Spanish version of “House of the Rising Sun,” sets a decidedly more upbeat tone than the film elicits. El Ángel was produced by Pedro Almodovar and is being marketed as an LGBT flick, but is not a movie for mainstream audiences by a long stretch, that is unless you’re really into beatific young serial killers. It’s memorable, but it’s sick.

It is the official submission of Argentina for the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category of the 91st Academy Awards in 2019.

The real life Carlitos was much worse than the kid in the film. He was convicted of 11 murders, one attempted murder, 17 robberies, one rape, one attempted rape, one count of sexual abuse, two kidnappings and two thefts. He killed his victims in a variety of ways, such as stabbing, shooting, strangling, bludgeoning to death with rocks and slitting their throats.


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