Angel (Koen Mortier, 2018) Belgium | Netherlands | Senegal

Reviewed by Ky Biswell at the Santa Barbara 2019 film festival.

The human condition, often explored but rarely defined with elegance and edge as Koen Mortier depicts so vividly. The theme of numbing the mind through destruction of body in a world where we can lose control so easily is portrayed gracefully.

When two different people from opposite sides of the sphere meet by chance in Senegal a story unfolds as they lean in to each other for support. They escape into the darkness of one night spent together that changed the course of both of their lives for good. In this night, they ran from the thorns of reality yet as the lights dim, they are faced with demons you can only see when the red lights turn on.

Fae encaptured by Fatou N’Diaye is eloquent and beautiful as she stalks through each frame statuesque and hollow. Her belief in who she is, besides her body is all that she owns. Her co star Vincent Rottiers completes the picture filling the frame with a man burning inside, and as the fire gets hotter he implodes from the inside out harming everyone in his path. We enter the story enticed by imagery and visuals produced by the shadows cast of blue and red light. In some moments it’s as if we entered a hypnotic dream while in others we abruptly collide with monotonous greys as they depict the past and take us out of our tranced like state. As our vision through the camera intimately follows our two main characters its as if we are inside the film our self masked with  their sorrows.

A stark contrast is made between the person that we show everyone from the outside, and the person we become when darkness ensues. It can even be so contradictory that our own family and friends may not know, yet a stanger, a stranger just might understand. This is where the film leaves you, with thoughts on the sheer randomness of life and the different people that live with you every day, which one are you going to let out tomorrow?


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