By midlandsmovies, Oct 21 2019 08:06AM
Directed by Duaine Roberts
A new feature film comes courtesy of West Midlands filmmaker Duaine Roberts who covers sorrow and misery in new drama film Angel City.
We are introduced to Raven (played by Tamaira Hesson) who is grieving for reasons unknown and doesn’t feel like joining in with her sister’s social scene. Her sibling, Angel (Adaya Monique Henry), is a music artist struggling for money. Raven is trying to overcome her depression but claims drugs further affect her mood, but does she still rely too much on them to get her through her troubles?
Raven does eventually show up at party before heading to toilet for some privacy but also expresses her concerns to her sister about how she doesn’t fit in. Scarily she is then brutally attacked but the culprit is unknown and thus sets up a mystery of how all these events came to occur.
The great Birmingham accents come through from the actors, but scenes are very dialogue heavy and the conversations do not lead to the most exciting pieces of drama it has to be said.
Flashbacks begin filling in the story arcs which involve a same-sex love affair before the police start to investigate, and the film gradually reveals how the past is still affecting the lives of those in the present.
Stylistically, the director’s almost sole use of 2-people conversations (or phone calls) in household rooms really slows down the narrative. And this has the effect of losing audience engagement owing to the endless flat “mid-shot” style of filming.
Although adding some realism, a bit more creativity felt needed in these choices. An establishing shot and close-up wouldn’t go amiss. This is unfortunately compounded with the sound, where other than a few tracks, the film really could do with a score to give more emotional beats to the ups and downs of the character relationships.
As the story progresses, the film explores drugs – both recreational and medicinal – and the sibling 'rivalry' comes to a head as secrets are uncovered including blackmail, crime and sexual violence.
Sadly though, the film overall feels a little slow and the drama falls a bit flat. And a huge absence of background sound, music or a score gives little dynamics to each scene especially as nearly all information is provided to the viewer in conversations only. That said, it’s always more than a pleasure to see local filmmakers jump into the feature-length area and admirable to tackle such a sprawling story script.
In the end, the film is delivered by a talented cast who believe in the work and valiantly give everything they can to make it work. And so Angel City does take an honourable but flawed and repetitive look at issues of violence, coping with grief and at the same time respectfully deals with anxiety and the complexities of same-sex relationships.