The Angel Inn (Canada 2013) Written and directed by Kirk Schriefer Genre: Romance Drama Running time: 90 minutes
Reviewed by Joan Nicks: Adjunct Professor Brock University, film critic, programmer, writer.
The Angel Inn (2013), a low budget independent film, written and directed by Kirk Schriefer, adopts the narrative tool of pitching reluctant characters into a reunion. In Schriefer's film, the story is the thing...carried by three friends who attend a memorial service for a former friend. Confronted with the shocking news, Janet (Carla Albi), Pete (Daniel Kelly) and Stan (Matthew Gonzales) are stalled in a picturesque small town when they co-inherit their friend's pub.
There are intimations of reflection in The Angel Inn, notably in the theme of inheriting the baggage of the past, unloading that baggage and facing today's generational drift away from the limitations of the small town, exemplified by the bar itself. The Inn acts as ballast to the narrative problem of reconciling sticky personal relationships.
Carla is keen to return to her job in New York City, while Pete assumes the hard work, long hours and commitment of bar life. All three characters are self-interested figures forced to abandon big-time ambition (Carla's New York job) and childhood games (Pete and Stan's peeing competition at the tree house). Sexual betrayal, blame and guilt are at the heart of the story, carrying the past into the present, with Carla internalizing the pain of a personal decision she made before leaving Pete, family and farm for the Big Apple.
A trio of wisecracking old-timers a Scot, an Irishman and an Englishman is cast as prompts to the three main characters. Regulars at the bar, they perpetrate a running sight gag meant to keep alive the spirit of the former owner. Neither "wise men" nor oracles, they are drunken tricksters -- broadly written stereotypes played as farce -- but something of a nagging conscience through the haze of beer and pranks.
The bar scenes convey the textures of any local bar with a tradition of serving a small-town clientèle out for a night, a date and a brew, or a fight. An anonymous drunk looking for trouble ensnares Carla into his dark mood. A mêlée ensues and the bar is in a shambles as is its muddled future. Schriefer is a keen observer of the drudgery, dogged work and late hours of the bar scene. He also understands that local bars constitute a music scene for young talent, and he populates the bar scenes with various local bands.
The bar interior is a convincing recreation of the extant historic Angel Inn in Niagara-on-the- Lake, Ontario.
This is Schriefer's first feature film and his strengths are apparent. Schiefer is a storyteller and in person is an engaging conversationalist, energetically talking about writing scripts, and possesses a zeal for the values of indie films.
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?