Cowboy Angels

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Chicago International Film Festival

CHICAGO -- This film is a two-fer: a two-for-the-road storyline and a mix of two genre styles -- noir and Western. It's a bright, but uneven blend and unlikely to travel any wider than the festival circuit.

The title, "Cowboy Angels," is a forced mix: This French film has really nothing to do with American cowboys, or even Westerns. It simply borrows some Western shot grammar, largely from Ford, and parades about a cast of uglies that conjures Leone. On the plus side, "Cowboy Angels" jangles along with an ever-rousing Western-style score, a mix-mash of Ennio Morricone and Duane Eddy.

Glazed with a dank noir look of one-night-stop motels, "Cowboy Angels" centers on two outsiders: a mop-headed, 11-year-old, Kevin (Diego Mestanza), who lives a nomadic life with his barfly mother, and Louis (Thierry Levaret), who subsists on poker scams. Both need an escape. They set out on a trek to Spain, ostensibly to find the boy's father. Along the way, they perpetrate petty crimes of survival and bond. In short, "Cowboy Angels" is a battling-buddy, road picture.

The two roadies are both engaging. Mestanza has the heady aplomb of a Truffault-type kid, while Levaret deftly exudes the right weathered/leathered spirit.

Screenwriters Kim Massee and Chloe Marcias have charted a largely entertaining story trip. However, as a director, Massee is less assured. She glosses the adventure with film-school style homage to iconic movie moments. These "insider" flourishes wear thin fast.

Technical contributions are a mixed bag with some clamorous sound inconsistencies. Overall, "Cowboy Angels" is graced by the crisp pacing of editor Amandine Clisson and the evocative noir scopings of cinematographer Marc Romani.

COWBOY ANGELS
Artworx Films
Credits:
Director: Kim Massee
Writers: Kim Massee, Chloe Marcais
Director of photography: Marc Romani
Music: Laurent Petitgand
Editor: Amandine Clisson
Cast:
Kevin: Diego Mestanza
Louis: Thierry Levaret
Mother: Francoise Klein
Billie: Noelle Giraud
Running time -- 101 minutes
No MPAA rating
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