Director Kim Massee’s Cowboy Angels is a road movie without a context—except, that is, for the overruling cliché of the genre that insists on seeing a cute child riding in a car for extended periods of time with a grouchy adult, usually on a road to nowhere but one that almost always ends in contentment. Massee tweaks this formula somewhat but seems resistant to emotional clarity. When Pablo’s mother leaves for destinations unknown, possibly never to come back, the young boy bribes a complete stranger, Louis (Thierry Levaret), to take him to Spain in order to look for his biological father. The title of the film is a double-edged pretense, pointing both to a curious western mystique that is really only apparent in the harmonica drone that persistently lingers on the soundtrack, and the idea that Pablo (Diego Mestanza) and Louis are wandering souls that were probably meant to find each other. Mestanza is a likeable performer, but his character’s motivations seem unnecessarily shrouded in mystery, which would be fine if Massee’s aesthetic had the metaphysical resonance of Theo Angelopoulos’s great Landscape in the Mist. The video image is unattractive and the filmmaking undistinguished, but there is some nuance to Levaret’s great stone face, which suggests a mountainside withered by years of hardship. As Louis and Pablo travel from France to Spain and back again, on a vague mission that has the characters looking for someone—anyone, really—to take the boy, Massee begins positing the possibility of an alternate family for Pablo. Though it ends on an impressively relaxed note of uncertainty, the film feels oddly detached, never capturing that vital sense of historical connection and spiritual camaraderie between people that is apparent in Wim Wenders’s best movies.
- 100 min
- Kim Massee
- Kim Massee
- Thierry Levaret, Diego Mestanza, Françoise Klein, Noëlie Giraud, Stefano Cassetti, Gilles Gaston-Dreyfus, Laurent Petigand
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