Sunday, December 04, 2011

“Angels Crest” – Movie Review



This weekend in my movie class, we saw yet another bonus screening – this time, it was the drama “Angels Crest”, with a cast that includes Elizabeth McGovern, Jeremy Piven and Mira Sorvino. 



When a young single father is beset by tragedy, the small town in which he lives is torn apart between his supporters and detractors – but when he faces criminal charges, will he be exonerated?



In the foothills of the Rocky Mountains lies the tiny working class town Angels Crest.  Among its residents is Ethan (Thomas Dekker), an automobile mechanic who lives modestly while raising his 3 year old son Nate by himself because his alcoholic ex-wife Cindy (Lynn Collins) is incapable of caring for the boy.  One morning, after a heavy snowfall, Ethan brings Nate into the woods to play in the snow.  Upon finding his son asleep by the time they reach their destination, Ethan decides to go for a short walk in the woods after securing Nate in his car seat and locking the door to his truck – but when he returns, Ethan finds Nate missing. 

The town’s entire police force is called in to search for the boy, including a number of volunteers from this tightly-knit community.  Present for support during the quest are Angie (Sorvino), proprietor of the town’s diner and Jane (McGovern), a long-time friend of Ethan’s.  By sundown, Nate hasn’t been found, so the police give up for the time being; Ethan, however, remains resolute in the search for his son and continues looking all night long.  The next morning, Ethan makes a gruesome discovery when he finds Nate’s body, having frozen to death in the woods. 

While the entire town is in mourning over the boy’s death, the state decides to have their District Attorney (Piven) prosecute Ethan for negligence in Nate’s death.  Dissention reigns over Angels Crest as townspeople are split down the middle as to whether or not Ethan is at fault for his son’s death.  Ethan himself begins to question his own actions and sets out on a mission to prove his lack of culpability.  But as the DA appears to be building an open-and-shut case against Ethan, can he find a way to somehow regain his neighbors’ trust and convince everyone that he is not responsible for the death of his son?      



Simply put, this is a movie that is guaranteed to break your heart.  It’s not exactly the type of “feel-good” movie you’d want to see around the holiday season – instead, it’s difficult to watch and ultimately rather depressing.  If you’re in the mood for a gloomy downer this time of year, then “Angels Crest” is definitely the movie for you.  None of this is intended to dissuade you from seeing this film, however – it’s simply intended as a caveat in case you have not yet read the book by the same name on which it is based.  While it is certainly far from light and fluffy entertainment, neither should it be completely dismissed. 

There were, however, some misgivings I had about “Angels Crest”.  For one thing, we saw the state’s District Attorney (Piven’s character) investigating the case, but he mostly just met with people who were more or less supportive of Ethan, despite the fact that we knew there were residents of the town who would be able to provide him with a better case.  Also, we never actually saw Ethan working with his own lawyer – matter of fact, most of the investigative work seemed to be done by Ethan himself.  This also begs the question as to why Piven’s character didn’t research this as well.  Can anyone explain to me why, when Piven’s District Attorney finally takes the case to court that he doesn’t even bother to shave? 

Following the screening, our instructor interviewed the film’s director Gaby Dellal and actress Lynn Collins, who played Ethan’s ex-wife, Cindy.  Dellal spoke about how she got to work on this film:  she was sent a manuscript, which was basically the novel on which this film was based.  While on vacation in France with her boyfriend, rains were so torrential that she never left her hotel room, so she spent most of her time reading the book – she was so touched that, as a mother, she felt she must make the movie.  Collins discussed her background and working on the movie with Gaby.  A Juilliard graduate, her husband – also an actor – was originally auditioning for the part of Ethan; in his scene, he brought his wife Lynn into the audition to act with him.  Although he never got the part, she won the role of Cindy because of her convincing performance during the audition. 


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