Eye For Film >> Movies >> Angels Crest (2011) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Gaby Dellal's follow up to her crowd-pleasing debut feature On A Clear Day is an altogether more chilly affair. Based on the novel by Leslie Schwartz, it tracks the reactions of a small community as they try to come to terms with the death of one of their town's youngest residents.
Ethan (Thomas Dekker, proving he is not just a pretty face) is a caring but slightly lackadaisical dad, bringing up three-year-old Nate (Ameko Eks Mass Carroll) in a free-range fashion - shots of their house, for example, reveal booze bottles and soft toys in equal number. On a trip out into the snowy landscape, Nate falls asleep in the car, prompting Ethan to turn the heat up and leave him there. It's a decision that leads to disaster and the rest of the film focuses on the consequences.
The central tragedy is hard to fault. Dellal handles the tension well and provides an icy build-up to Nate's death. She proves again how good she is at getting naturalistic performances from children and Dekker is convincing as a man drowning in a sea of silent grief. The impact of the death on the community is also well-handled as some see the event as a terrible accident while others lay the blame firmly at Ethan's door - although scenes from Nate's alcoholic mother Cindy (Lynn Collins) feel overwrought in comparison to those involving Ethan.
But Angels Crest has a number of peripheral problems, mostly to do with the sheer number of under-developed characters and subplots. They are largely concerned with what it means to be a 'good parent' but are clumsily told and offer so little in terms of impact to the central story that they amount to no more than unwanted padding. Chief among these is the lesbian relationship between diner waitress Jane (Elizabeth McGovern) and Roxanne (Kate Walsh). An entire plotline is devoted to Jane's son and pregnant girlfriend's reaction to his mother's set up but it is so heavy-handed that it sits ill at ease alongside the more subtler scenes elsewhere.
Also problematic is Jeremy Piven's local DA. Although there are hints that he has an intriguing backstory, which is why he is so determined to bring Ethan 'to justice', his motivations are never fleshed out enough. His scenes also feel oddly tacked on to the rest of the action, as though he is being wheeled out periodically to move the story along rather than forming an integral part of it.
Still, for all its failings, you stay and grieve with Ethan as the snow falls on remorselessly.Reviewed on: 01 Jul 2011