ANGEL RODRIGUEZ is yet another story of a kid whose innate talents and intelligence are misguided until he comes Under the influence of a caring adult, able to share her own vulnerabilities allowing the two to grow into stronger people. At least it seems that is what this little short and rather flimsy film is trying to say. The script is so lean and the attempt to develop characters who are understandable in their own light in order for us to care about the plot line of 'redemption' just doesn't support the film. This is a case where the actors are so fine that they are able to fill in the gaping cracks in the script well enough to maintain our attention, our concern, for the duration of the film.
Jonan Everett, making his strong film debut, is that kind of understated actor whose presence rings true and this presence makes us care about a kid whose actions should repulse us at times. His 'Angel' is a bright young talented kid who longs for something more then the hand he has been dealt. His friends, especially the gender bending Jamie (Jon Norman Schneider) is another newcomer to watch. The camera loves him and it seems there is enough latent talent to make him a fine little character actor. Much the same can be said for his other computer geek friend Raymond (Wallace Little). But the strength of the production is secured whenever the talented Rachel Griffiths (Nicole - the social worker) enters the story. Though we are given little from the script to help us organize her motivations, Griffiths' power as an actress overcomes the hurdles.
Writer/director Jim McKay has done better work in the past: Everyday People, Our Song, Girls Town, and some TV show episodes. He gives us the feeling that he understands the underbelly of the big cities and probably with the next film he will have learned from ANGEL RODRIGUEZ a few pointers to help him correct the deficiencies here. Grady Harp
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