Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

ANGEL OF DEATH [Semana Santa]

ANGEL OF DEATH (Semana Santa/2002). Director: Pepe Darquart. Screenplay by Ray Mitchell.

In modern-day Seville, Mira Sorvino is a cop who has just been transferred from Madrid. Her new partner (Olivier Martinez) is a rather obnoxious guy who thinks she's a “dyke.” These two are called in to investigate the grisly murders of two gay male twins who were into art and sadism. Before long it becomes apparent that a serial killer in a red cloak and hood is on the loose, and it may all be tied in with family secrets and political events that happened in Spain decades before. The storyline reminds one of a Dario Argento giallo film, but this picture is much too tasteful, the murders are not done with any flair, and the pace is draggy. Darquart betrays little style as a director but the film, made on location, is certainly atmospheric and has some interesting elements. One of the suspects is a bullfighter known as El Quapo, and another is a man who carried out rapes and murders years ago before eventually becoming mayor – but if he isn't dead he'd be too old to commit the crimes. Could he have a son – or many – from the many rapes he perpetrated so many years before? Alida Valli [the same Valli who starred with Gregory Peck in Hitchcock's The Paradine Case] shows up as a woman who lived through the terrible events and may be the mother of the murderer. The screenplay doesn't always jell or make sense, which may be indicative of post-production tampering. Sorvino is a very appealing actress, but Martinez, who was so excellent in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone remake with Helen Mirren, is pretty much wasted in this. Valli is nearly unrecognizable but her performance is credible.

Verdict: Not all bad, but it cries out for tightness and more energetic treatment. **.

No comments: