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