Angel Baby

on January 24, 1997 by S.L.
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Screened at Sundance Film Festival in World Cinema.
Tough and touching, this strong, hard film swept the Australian equivalent of the Oscars last year. Reminiscent in tone to British director Mike Hughes' work, Australian director Michael Rymer's work here captures a rich and realistic, bittersweet tale through strong performances and a light-hearted touch. Harry (John Lynch, "In the Name of the Father") is a heavily medicated, recovering mental patient who meets a breath of fresh air in an equally disturbed soulmate named Kate (Jacqueline McKenzie, "Romper Stomper"). Soon the two are madly in love, moving in together and having a baby. Thanks to their sustaining relationship, momentary mental improvement and the revelation of impending parenthood, Harry decides they should forgo their medications in order to prevent birth defects in their baby, who Kate believes is an angel that speaks to her through the phrases presented on "Wheel of Fortune."
It is a testament to Rymer and his actors that "Angel Baby" is not only realistic and truthful, but incredibly engaging. Alternately delightful and terrifying, this hard-to-watch story is grounded by dynamic performances. The movie rests squarely on Lynch's talented shoulders and he carries it effortlessly. His breakdown in the men's restroom at work is a stunning study in anguish. McKenzie is a constant surprise, lining her "crazy waif" character with delicate strands of anger, joy, love, sex and truth, creating a performance as lovely and warm as a homemade quilt. Unlike "Mad Love"--last year's simplistic, American-made, MTV-influenced variation on similar themes--this film is fresh, provocative and layered. It paints a real and reverberating portrait of two struggling souls, brimming with the fire and desire of wounded psyches as they fight to fly free in a world of pain. Starring John Lynch, Jacqueline McKenzie and Colin Friels. Written and directed by Michael Rymer. Produced by Timothy White and Jonathan Shteinman. Drama. Running time: 105 minutes.
Tags: ohn Lynch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Colin Friels, Michael Rymer, Timothy White, Johnathan Shteinman, Drama, medications, touching, parenthood, realistic, truthful, love
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