Short Film Review “Angel Of Anywhere”




First, the Recap:

Shelter. Protection. Escape. Sanctuary. In everyday life, there are those elements we wish to find a haven from rather than dealing with the ramifications they represent, fearing the impact they might have on us should we face them. How we choose to seek out such solace, however, may or may not be the most effective or beneficial means to find peace. Welcome to Anywhere Bar, a certain club of a certain style that entertains those who’ve chosen to find out if letting loose is the answer. Amongst the club’s workers is Angel (Axel Roldos) who finds his meaning not only in dancing, but in being a “fixer” of sorts, seemingly able to take even the most mundane of problems, whether objects or people, and provide solutions.

Over the course of two particular nights, Angel finds himself inexplicably drawn into situations involving fellow workers or clientele, all of whom have issues of varying degrees. From DJ Alexxx’s (Nihan Gur) malfunctioning speaker system, fellow dancer D.C.’s (David A. Gregory) gripes about low tips and being the new guy, a hesitant, “lost” young woman named Michelle (Briana Evigan) who is unsure of everything life seems to have brought that’s supposed to be good, yet also compromises who she feels she is or was, and finally a businessman named Brian (Ser’Darius Blain) whose home life is in shambles and isn’t clear about who he is even truly supposed to be when pressured from every side. As Angel listens to them all, offering what he can, there are still hard lessons to be confronted that he cannot see coming and is shaken upon learning.

Next, my Mind:

Let this reviewer be frank from the start and state that when I initially saw this 16-minute short film from director/executive producer/editor James Kicklighter takes place in a male strip club, the first inclination was to decline screening it, having a pre-conceived notion about what direction events depicted might venture to. Now, while there are a few particular sequences visually I could have personally done without seeing, make no mistake that under the surface burns a deftly written, intelligently executed, deeply human, dramatic exploration into the very heart of what it means to have the desire to see things that are broken fixed, changed, or transformed via time, patience, multiple efforts, and confronting your demons while also realizing there are also times where even that is simply not enough, regardless of what we say or do. With a beautiful sense of itself and its purpose, the film’s perfect pacing allows us to experience a full immersion into the intricacies of the emotionally scarred individuals Angel comes into contact with, allowing him opportunity to infuse an almost otherworldly calm, idealistic, and empathetic wisdom to each. Throughout the narrative as well, both visually and verbally, whether forefront or in background, everything points to the aforementioned notions above, while the film’s setting and cinematography greatly speaks to the naked, raw vulnerability being presented as well. Plus, suffice it to say, the film’s finale puts a well earned exclamation point on the proceedings, highly evocative and richly effective in conjunction with the themes here.

Newcomer Roldos brings an understated intensity paired with a realistically emotive bend to his performance as Angel, a club dancer simply trying to make his way in the world as he does for the present while also showcasing a desire to make where he is a better place by lending a helping hand and sympathetic/compassionate manner to everyone he interacts with.  Ideally, he tries to make people see the good side of things when they’re damaged, challenging them when needed, encouraging them always, and not truly demanding anything in return.  However, this openness also potentially opens the door for disappointment when things don’t go exactly as he envisions they will or should, and the frustration he endures when this occurs is underplayed but still very potent in its effect on him and his almost utopian mindset. He’s in involuntary therapist to many, when one wonders if at times, he really needs it for himself with the weight of everything he carries emotionally on his shoulders and within gleaned from other’s sharing, and Roldos so effectively enacts this dichotomy with skill and poise.

Evigan and Blain have the duty of portraying two of the fractured souls Angel has contact with in the back rooms of the club, both of whom are there for simple escape yet end up releasing what’s inside and putting it all out there for Angel to absorb for contemplation and subsequent advice.  Evigan’s shy, uncertain, questioning everything Michelle is a study in totally awkward yet honest restlessness looking for an outlet she isn’t even sure why she’s seeking, while Blain’s Brian is the confident executive under massive amounts of pressure no matter where he turns, is baffled and beleaguered by it all, and turns to not always the healthiest means to deal with it. Additional support comes from Gregory as the club’s newbie dancer who’s really in need of encouragement, Gur as the club DJ and sassy yet sensitive girl Alexxx, Krystal Conway as the club bartender, Tyrone Emanuel as stripper Phoenix, and Adam Carr as a bar patron. In total, “Angel of Anywhere” ends up being an astute, engaging, emotionally-charged, character-driven short film that certainly belies and defies what one would expect from a story that’s centered primarily in a strip club, while teaching us quite a bit from start to finish about hurt, hope, expectation, and realities that sometimes don’t always go our way.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!


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